Monday, June 04, 2007

MotoGP Mugello Masterclass

Lately it has been easy to forget that Valentino Rossi is peerless in the modern era, his real peers being the likes of Agostini and Hailwood.
At Mugello, he gave us all a good slap to wake us up.
The Yamaha wasn't the quickest bike in a straight line, although it is now on a level with the Honda and Suzuki. In the morning warm-up, Rossi had been dicing with Stoner and Barros, the Ducatis easily overtaking the Yamaha before the start line. That seemed to be it, Stoner would win, Barros would have a good race and Rossi would be lucky to get a podium.
What we hadn't banked on was the Yamaha's ability to scream around the corners and hurl itself down the straights. The Yamaha in Rossi's hands, anyway. Edwards would trundle round on an identical bike to finish 12th, just 2 places in front of Guintolli's Dunlop Yamaha.
The Doctor got off to a mediocre start, and was swamped down to 8th place. Stoner and Capirossi were off into the lead. There we go, Ducati winning at Mugello, but which one? Little Capirex took the lead from his young whippersnapper team-mate and off they went. But they were not pulling away from the pack. Capirossi was passed by Stoner, and a few more people followed to put the little Italian back about 4 places in 2 corners.
Dani Pedrosa managed to sneak past Stoner for the lead. Having finally conquered John Hopkins after a titanic struggle, Rossi was charging through the field and was soon right behind the miniature Spaniard. Everybody else was gradually losing touch.
Unsurprisingly, Dani's Honda was very quick in a straight line, but Rossi is amazing on the brakes and Dani isn't. (Just ask Nicky Hayden...)
Rossi took the lead, and although Dani could get alongside on the main straight, he couldn't outbrake the Italian.
Behind them, two Ducatis were doing battle. 90 year old Alex Barros and 12 year old Casey Stoner were fighting for the final podium spot. It seemed for a while that the Brazilian would stay behind the factory Ducati on his d'Antin satellite bike, but Barros finally made his move and overtook Stoner for 3rd. There was nothing much the little Australian could do about it. Let's not forget that Barros is seriously quick around Mugello, being the last person to win it before Rossi decided to dominate every single year.
Up front, it was a repeat of Jerez, with Rossi eking out a tenth here and there while Dani slowly slipped back. Rossi was victorious, while Dani was very impressive but still doesn't have the beating of The Doctor.
Rossi and Pedrosa were the only two Michelin runners at the front, with Bridgestones from 3rd to 9th place. The French tyre manufacturer must still be reeling from their Le Mans GP defeat, and they seem to have produced something special for the two top Michelin runners. Although it has been claimed by some that the Mugello result shows the Ducati doesn't go round corners after all, Stoner did take pole position in the wet. I believe that Michelin should take some of the credit for beating Ducati.
Even so, it's a quick track and the Yamaha shouldn't have won. It wouldn't have with anybody else on board, but The Doctor makes the difference.
There was fun in the British Eurosport TV commentary box, when commentator and respected MotoGP writer Julian Ryder rubbed his F1-loving colleague Toby Moody's nose in it by pointing out that in Boremula One, a satellite team would never be allowed to overtake their factory team, and a top driver can never make up for a mediocre car. With d'Antin on the podium and Rossi winning, MotoGP showed that it is still the pinnacle of motorsport.
Rossi is now just 9 points behind Stoner in the championship, and his fading title challenge has been given a fresh coat of luminous yellow paint. Next up is Barcelona, which is a quick track but has been given a new, slightly silly slow section for safety. (Heh heh.) This might just give Rossi enough of a chance to outbrake people and lead over the line, but the awesome straight-line speed of the Ducatis will still play into Casey Stoner's hands. We will find out next week.

1 comment:

Alessandro Matteucci aka Alex 555 said...

Great post for a great race. Tomorrow Rossi first, Pedrosa second and Stoner third ...