Wednesday, January 16, 2008

MotoGP Predictions for 2008

Time was when it was easy to make predictions about MotoGP. Just say Rossi was going to win the title and his closest rival was going to be psychologically destroyed in the process. However, the last couple of years have been harsh on the pre-season fortune tellers:

Nicky Hayden winning the championship. [Rubs eyes] Huh?
Casey Stoner winning the championship. [Spits beer everywhere] You bloody what???

So these days it's spectacularly stupid to go making predictions about the year ahead. Well, my pool of predictions is a 2-foot deep volcanic spring full of caustic soda with jaggy rocks at the bottom, and I'm diving in head first.

Major Predictions:

Honda will win the championship.
With the introduction of 800cc engines in MotoGP, a lot of things changed. Ducati got everything right, even their inspired choice of the cocky little swine at the controls. They squared the circle of having power and economy at the same time, partly down to their excellent electronics. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Italians created the defining machine of its time. They've done it before in bike racing (MV Agusta), F1 back when it was less tedious (Maserati, Ferrari) and in rallying (Lancia). What surprises everyone is firstly that the Ducati never broke down, and secondly that after being completely dismantled by the scrutineers, it was found that they didn't even massage the rules like Ferrari would have done.

The red bikes apparently had relatively little development during the season, showing just how perfect the Bologna Bullets were in the first place. However, in the last race at Valencia, Dani Pedrosa's Honda was better than Stoner's Ducati. It went round corners faster and, incredibly, it went down the straight faster too. Even accounting for Pedrosa's tiny mass, which isn't actually all that much less than the 12 year old Stoner's, the Honda clearly had about 4 million bhp more than it had done at the start of the season. I reckon that the new Ducati will be a fairly gentle evolution of the old one, partly because Ducati will have to sit back and spend less money. They're a small company, and even with the tobacco money, they won't be able to spend big on huge new advances.

Heads have rolled at HRC. People have always claimed that Honda are a company that needs to race. Balls! Honda are a company that needs to win! Several senior Japanese engineers were fired, or at least moved sideways within the organization to save face. HRC bosses will be livid that the expected domination was an embarrassing failure. Second place in the championship? Second??? Not this time. I predict that the enraged HRC will snatch the title, with their tiny robogenius Dani Pedrosa taking the number one plate now that he's good in the wet and doesn't mind overtaking.

Rossi will stop whining about stuff.
The Doctor has turned into a right moaning minnie lately. My tyres are rubbish! My bike is rubbish! My tax avoision scam is rubbish! Waaah! Waaah!

Well, now the Doctor is on Bridgestones, the same as World Champion Casey Stoner. It's incredibly unlikely that Michelin will dominate the year, more likely that they'll be roughly there or thereabouts, so you can't go wrong with Bridgestones. Rossi also has a separate garage from his lollipop-licking "team mate" Jorge Lorenzo. It's well known that Valentino prefers a single bike team. I believe that his liking for Colin Edwards was largely down to the Texan's ability to shut the hell up and stay the hell out of Rossi's way. Lorenzo would've got right up Rossi's hooter, so he'll love the peace and quiet.

Although Rossi's race engineer Jeremy Burgess has complained about the difficulties of switching tyres and going to a single bike team, the Aussie will surely love sinking his teeth into the challenge. Nobody is better qualified to do so than Burgess, who is as much of a genius setting up a bike as Rossi is riding one.

All in all, I think there will be enough to put Rossi close to the front most of the time. He was often the lead Michelin runner last season, so this season he should often be leading races. That should shut him up.

Minor Predictions:

Or should that be

Minor Predictions:

John Hopkins will take podiums on the Kawasaki.
The Green Machine was a quick bike in 2007, and should be just as good in 2008. While Randy de Puniet spent most of his time flying through the air, Hopper's experience should see him staying quick all the way to the finish line.

Marco Melandri will win at least one race.
In testing, Marco had trouble adapting to the Ducati, but he'll win something just out of sheer bloody mindedness.

The racing will be closer.
Last year was utter garbage by MotoGP standards. You could do a scam mind-reading act where you ask somebody to think of a racetrack, then say "Concentrate on the track's name... I'm picking something up... The race there was rubbish and Stoner won by miles."

This year will be different. Michelin will be less rubbish, and even if they're not, Rossi isn't using them anyway. Honda will also be less rubbish. Some of the old riders who just weren't trying that hard most of the time are gone, replaced by psychotic youngsters like Lorenzo and Dovizioso, and hard-chargers like Toseland and West. Toni Elias will have his leg back, and Sylvain Guintoli will have half-decent tyres. It should be fun.

Right. There are the predictions. Hopefully at the end of the season, I'll remember to revisit them and show just how hideously wrong they all were!


Shaun said...

I think Hopkins will do well in 2008, good prediction.

Anonymous said...

2007 was drag, lets hope your predictions are right. Some of the new young "nutters" could add some serious fun once they get the hang off it

Jimmy said...

Yep, I reckon Dovi is the one to watch.