Monday, September 03, 2007

MotoGP: Casey Stoner Wins Misano Snoozefest

The star of the San Marino MotoGP race at Misano was little Spanish fruit-loop Toni Elias, who is still months away from full fitness with his fragile femur. The Gresini Honda rider seemed to be in trouble during the practise sessions, but when the red lights went out he was the one on form as he battled to 7th place. The fight between Elias and Kawasaki's Ant West was the only thing worth watching, as they passed and re-passed each other like real racers.
His team-mate Marco "Macho" Melandri was also on form as he took 4th place. It was a great performance, considering that in a practise session Marco had managed to run off the edge of the track and highside himself off the Honda. He slid for a distance best measured in football pitches, and by his standards was completely unhurt (i.e. nothing broken). The bike, however, performed some jaw-dropping acrobatics as it cartwheeled through the gravel trap, followed by some jaw-dropping aerobatics as it leapt the tyre wall and bounced back off the debris fence. Melandri is a real showman, he just doesn't have small crashes these days and he stops for nothing short of partial paralysis.
Idiot of the race award goes to Randy de Puniet. He has proved himself to be extremely quick this year, and judging by his speed in qualifying he was in with a shout of a podium. However, he has also proved himself to be a bloody idiot. He somehow managed to leap off his bike about 300 metres into the race, sending Dani Pedrosa tumbling and Nicky Hayden ploughing through the gravel trap. Nicky said it was all he could do to avoid running over de Puniet's head. I don't know why he bothered.
The domino effect of de Puniet's crash also resulted in Kurtis Roberts running through the gravel, letting him get a better look at the Repsol Hondas than he usually gets when they are blasting past about 30mph faster than him down the straight.
With Dani out and Nicky trundling around with a damaged tyre, hope for a good race was fading, and it would be extinguished altogether about 5 laps later when Valentino Rossi's Yamaha gave up the ghost. He had been running a new engine with pneumatic valves in an effort to get within shouting distance of Ducati speed. It conked out and he trundled back to the pits, dejected.
The two Suzuki riders had a great race. Hopkins was in 2nd at first, but his team-mate Vermeulen was faster, and managed to overtake him and set off after the race leader. Hopkins then had trouble with his left knee slider hanging off, but admitted that he wouldn't have caught Vermeulen anyway. This was the first time that two Suzukis had finished together on the podium since the 4-stroke MotoGP rules were brought in. (Admittedly, during the first 2 or 3 years of MotoGP, the Suzukis usually finished together in the gravel trap.) Vermeulen is going from strength to strength, with this 2nd place adding to his 2nd at Laguna and win at Le Mans to put him 4th in the championship, just 4 points ahead of Hopper, who was delighted with his 3rd place and performed a huge stand-up wheelie over the line.
Right, am I forgetting anything?
Oh yeah, Casey Stoner won the race at a canter. No surprise there.
There are a lot of whingers who seem to think that nobody has a right to win races except Valentino Rossi. If anyone else wins, it's due to a massive technical advantage, and to be fair, the Bridgestone tyres are great. However, I think it's clear that Casey Stoner is simply a brilliant 800cc MotoGP rider. He doesn't fall off. He doesn't panic. During qualifying, if there's something wrong with his number one bike, he just sits for 20 minutes while the mechanics fix it, then goes out and qualifies on the front row. If Stoner finds himself out in front and everyone thinks it's dull, what the hell is he supposed to do about it?
The reasons why MotoGP has had some really boring races are as follows:

  1. Yamaha's 800cc M1 has a million dollar lawnmower engine.
  2. Honda's 800cc RC212V is a total embarrassment.
  3. Michelin can't win without the unfair advantage of making tyres overnight.
  4. Kawasaki riders keep torpedoing half the field on lap one.
If everybody was on Bridgestones, would Stoner be finishing 5th all the time? No chance, he'd be right in there fighting for wins. The kid will be a worthy champion, the only question is whether he wins the title at the next race or the one after.


Anonymous said...

hey armchair.. valid comments but being an aussie and cheering for kc, chris-v and ant west it ain't a snoozefest. you have hit the nail on the head with casey, he is riding well, bike and tyres work and look and it's not like it's a duke 1,2,3 or 4 much like the honda's of past.. once upon a time valentino would sit and wait, and race with 3 laps to go and make a spectacle... casey on the other hand is amazing on cold hard tyres.
things will turn around, the french will learn how to make rubber, jerry and yamaha will step up, honda will be back and england can winge about jt getting bashed by the aussies next year.. transition time folks. moto gp still rules.. if you don't wanna watch, well i'm sure tennis or golf is right up your alley. just don't go for tiger or federer..
p.s.. enjoy your site and go mad mat!

Jimmy said...

Well, it's certainly a good time to be an Aussie watching MotoGP!
Valentino was caught out by Sete a couple of times by hanging round instead of disappearing up the road, which isn't a mistake that Stoner is going to make.