Monday, July 16, 2007

MotoGP Sachsenring: Dani Demolition

Miniature Spaniard Dani Pedrosa destroyed the opposition in the German GP at the Sachsenring to take his first victory for over a year, and end one of HRC's longest and most humiliating losing streaks.
Honda were behind the switch to an 800cc MotoGP class, allegedly because it would suit their new superstar Pedrosa, but supposedly to improve safety. Until now, Honda's 800cc V4 machine has been a real dog, never looking like a winning machine. As for safety, the 800's have given us two riders with broken femurs along with serious injuries to Kenny Junior's ego and Loris Capirossi's market value.
In East Germany, HRC's fortunes turned 180 degrees (roughly how hot it was at the Sachsenring). In qualifying, Pedrosa was beaten to pole by Casey Stoner, but only by 4 thousandths of a second. Before bolting on a qualifying tyre, Pedrosa had put in an ominous run of staggeringly fast laps on a race tyre. However, Honda weren't having it all their own way. Nicky Hayden had a massive engine blowup in Friday practise that treated Eurosport viewers to the hilarious performance of pitlane reporter and analyst Randy Mamola hopping over the pitwall and picking up chunks of Honda V4. The little Californian ex-racer and 500GP racewinner amazingly found a valve head from Hayden's bike, showing that the Honda motor had well and truly detonated.
In the race, Stoner made an excellent start, but Pedrosa soon nipped past.
Behind them, Valentino Rossi had made a weak start. The Doctor had been forced to visit a real Doctor, well Doctor Costa anyway, as he was running a fever and having mild breathing difficulties. Unsurprisingly, Dr Costa signed off Rossi as fit to race. (Unsurprising because Costa would quite possibly sign off a corpse as fit to race, and if you believe a certain "scurrilous website", that's exactly what he has been doing with Alex Barros for some years!)
Rossi was stuck behind Randy de Puniet, who was racing well after a hideous crash in qualifying that saw him hit the air fence, closely followed by his bike. With the FIAT Yamaha overheating, Rossi became increasingly desperate to find clear air. He jammed his bike down the inside of de Puniet, and with the two side by side you would get odds of a million to one on which was most likely to fall off in the next 2 seconds. Unbelievably, it was Rossi. Instead of just shoving the Kawasaki out wide, Rossi tried to turn tightly inside it and lowsided out of the race in a shower of sparks.
Up front, Stoner stayed within a few tenths of Pedrosa, but the gap turned into a chasm when Dani put the hammer down and Stoner's Bridgestone tyres went off horribly. All of a sudden, the Repsol Honda was disappearing over the horizon at 2 seconds per lap and the Aussie had no answer.
It rapidly became clear that Bridgestone were having a nightmare.
The only Bridgestone runner to escape was Loris Capirossi, who has had such a terrible season so far that he was able to throw caution to the wind and run a completely different compound to everybody else. It might have been a shot in the dark, but it was a masterstroke. The Italian quickly caught up on his team-mate, who was battling with Marco Melandri. Capirossi sailed past both of them into turn one, running wide but showing his old self when he slammed the door on his young team-mate with great relish. Capirex then disappeared into a safe second place, which he held to the finish.
Nicky Hayden had started 14th and was then spooked by a funny noise from his bike. After messing around with the engine mapping, the Kentucky Kid decided it wasn't going to blow up and he may as well press on. He then rode a brilliant race, scything through the field to finish 3rd and put a second HRC Repsol Honda on the podium.
Colin Edwards followed Hayden home in 4th, pushing Stoner to 5th. As Rossi DNF'd (can't think of a better way to spell that), Stoner still extends his championship lead to 32 points, meaning he cannot lose the lead before Brno regardless of what happens next week at Laguna Seca.
Ant West took 8th place after his Kawasaki team-mate de Puniet's bike conked out on the last lap leaving him 15th but not classified as a finisher. Another decent day for the Aussie, who held off The Hoff on the d'Antin Ducati.
Honda's baffling choice of Michel Fabrizio to replace Toni Elias paid off with a 10th place, though of the 4 people behind him he only really beat Kurtis Roberts on the track. Vermeulen had a stop-go after jumping the start due to a dragging clutch, Tamada came in for a tyre change and Carlos Checa took the final points in 14th despite falling off, visiting the pits and rejoining 3 laps down.
Honour has returned to the HRC team with an excellent performance. Michelin take a lot of credit, but Pedrosa was clearly the fastest thing on the track anyway. Hayden has returned to form just in time for Laguna Seca, as has Colin Edwards. Loris Capirossi will be over the moon at his 2nd place, which should give his manager a bit more clout in the marketplace so long as he has a half-decent race in the USA.
Next week, California. It will be a crucial race for Valentino Rossi, who could do with 25 points, but can he beat the Hondas, his team-mate and Casey Stoner on a track where he has never won?


Alessandro Matteucci aka Alex 555 said...

Jimmy, can you elaborate on Costa and Barros? I am clueless ... As per Laguna I can not wait because with on bad tires Stoner was not faster than Melandri and Hopper ... the only weakness (as opposed to the long list of skills) that he has shown so far.

Jimmy said...

There's a scurrilous website that's very rude about everybody in MotoGP, which claims that Barros is a 1000 year old living dead zombie and Dr Costa helps to keep him "alive"...
It also claims that Marco Melandri is a random number generator because he finishes each race in a completely random position.

Alessandro Matteucci aka Alex 555 said...

these guy should change subject because certain types of comment are more appropriated to Hollywood than our sport. I guess that they are just trying to get some attention like those people running naked in front the Tour de France or during a soccer game.