Monday, November 05, 2007

MotoGP Valencia: Tiny Man Wins, Fat Lady Sings.

The MotoGP season ended as Dani Pedrosa took a dominant victory at the Valencia GP, that left Casey Stoner scrabbling for his book of excuses (he's still stuck on page 1: Couldn't Find a Setup).

The microscopic Catalan had started from pole position again, his 4th in as many races. There's nothing much wrong with the factory Honda now, as was shown when Pedrosa zipped past Stoner on the straight and outbraked him into turn one. Of course, you can get away with your engine being several horsepower down when your rider is ten kilos lighter than Capirossi. We saw early on that little Dani was on top form when he passed his fast-starting team-mate Nicky Hayden with a proper overtaking move. Pedrosa's victory secured 2nd place in the championship, just 125 points behind Stoner.

At first it seemed like Stoner was making a break, but Dani reeled him in. It was good to see Stoner overtaken for once. Don't get me wrong, he's incredibly quick, but Casey's a cold fish compared to his countrymen: the likeable Chris Vermeulen and the magnificently Australian Ant West. In a way, Stoner has me yearning for the stupid celebrations of Rossi, rather than Casey's cocky claims that he won by 5 seconds without even trying. This time we were back to the bad setup excuse, previously seen when Barros overtook him in Italy. Old hands at Ducati will be remembering Carl Fogarty's ability to ride around any problem with the bike through sheer bloody mindedness.

Don't get me wrong, Stoner is a worthy champion, and a decent bet for next year's title, but he just reminds me of soccer star Alan Shearer, who revealed that he had celebrated his team's amazing feat of winning the English Premier League by painting his garden fence with a fresh coat of creosote. Well, at least the kid married a stunning Aussie girl rather than bringing his tubby friend along for us to look at when he's winning.

John Hopkins had a lonely race to 3rd place, just a fraction slower than the guys in front, but easily quicker than those behind. It will be fascinating to see him on the Kwaka, which has looked stunningly quick with Randy de Puniet on board (though we tend to see Randy flying through the air alongside the bike as much as we see him actually on board the machine.) Hopper's team-mate for next year, Ant West, had a nightmare. Westy claimed that after the race he had finally twigged where he was going wrong with the setup, showing a learning ability that is more akin to Anthony Gobert than Jeremy Burgess.

Loris Capirossi was 5th ahead of his team-mate for next year Chris Vermeulen. Alex Barros was 7th in his one millionth and final Grand Prix. The knives are out as he has revealed what a bunch of clowns the D'Antin Ducati team are. Poor old Barros didn't even have a suspension technician, which is ludicrous at this level of competition, and he was ordered to stop overtaking factory Ducatis, which is pathetic. The D'Antin team has been renamed Alice Ducati for next year. (Alice? Who the...)

Carlos Checa was riding in his last GP despite a mystery illness, and goes to Ten Kate in WSBK next year after undercutting Barros's pay demands.

Who have I missed out? Ah yes, Valentino Rossi. Remember him? He was crocked in a massive crash in qualifying, where he was thrown off after a vicious tank-slapper and broke 3 bones in his hand. The Doctor needed the help of the Quack (Costa), but was able to race. He started on the back row, and was just starting to overtake people when his Yamaha conked out. Heaven knows why, considering that he couldn't even pass Tamada down the straights. He was thoroughly disgusted that it was the bike that failed and not the Michelin tyres.

Kurtis Roberts pulled the Team KR machine in with another engine problem, proving that the 15,000 of us with our names on the bike had brought no luck whatsoever. Oh well. Hopefully Team KR can get the Ducati support they are hoping for next year.


Rob said...

I wish I'd thought of "the Doctor needed the Quack" line - nice!

I'm with you about seeing Stoner beaten for a change. I believe he's turned into a bit of a stroppy git recently in the paddock and needs to have himself a reality check. He's no Doohan yet, and won't be for another seven or eight seasons.

I'm off to find a report from some journo who has got a ride on one of the 07 bikes. Lucky sods.

Jimmy said...

Yeah, I don't like to sound like a Stoner-basher, since I do think he is a top racer and deserves the title. He has been arrogant and childish at times, though.
We'll have to see how he reacts when Marco Melandri's in the team, Rossi's on the same tyres and Pedrosa has a proper bike next year...