Monday, June 23, 2008

MotoGP Donington: Southern Cross Rises Again

Once again at Donington, we saw a flag decorated with the Southern Cross rising to the top of the flagpole, and heard Advance Australia Fair blasting out over the PA system. Casey Stoner has re-tamed the 800cc Ducati, and his rivals should be afraid.

Casey was exasperated that some fans still don't like him, and asked what he could do to win them over. Probably nothing. I mean, if he stopped being such a moaning Minnie it might help, but a jaw-droppingly fast, well-spoken motorcycle racer with a stunning wife who likes to win from the front is never going to be a folk hero. We're always going to be bigger fans of lovable losers, or raving lunatics. No names, no pack drill. (Cough! Colin Edwards and Jorge Lorenzo. Ahem.)

Stoner arrived at Donington Park claiming that he and the Marlboro Ducati engineers had discovered electronic tweaks that made the Bologna Bullet easier to ride, and would stop it shimmying all over the place when he put the power down. When he ventured out onto track, it emerged that he wasn't joking. He was fastest in the dry practise, then in the wet qualifying, then in the dry race. The old Casey is back. The one who is so awesome to watch as he wrings the Ducati's neck, but so dull to watch as he wins by several seconds. Hell, at least when he's leading by half a mile the TV director keeps cutting to the delectable Mrs Stoner in the pits.

There was a moment in qualifying, referred to by Julian Ryder in his always excellent Ryder Notes for, when Casey passed his team-mate Marco Melandri on a hot lap. As Marco wobbled around the outside of the corner, Casey screamed past, visibly shaking his head at his hapless team-mate. The little Aussie is the only Ducati rider who even resembles a race winner. The other 3 look like club racers who are just happy to stay on the bike.

There was a bit of a race for the distant 2nd place. Teeny Spaniard Dani Pedrosa was clearly faster than Valentino Rossi, but despite putting a couple of passing moves on the Italian, he was re-passed by The Doctor. Eventually the little Repsol Honda rider gave up and finished 3rd, while Rossi put his FIAT Yamaha in 2nd place.

Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards finished 4th in yet another decent performance, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso on his Honda. Hero of the day was certifiable lunatic Jorge Lorenzo, who started so far back on the grid that he could see Marco Melandri without binoculars, and finished 6th. Jorge was amazed that the highest price achieved for any item at the Riders for Health auction was for a set of his leathers. Everyone loves a nutcase, Jorge.

Local hero James Toseland hopped off his bike at turn 1. Oops-a-daisy. It was a terrible weekend for the Englishman, but he actually knows Assen better than Donington so should do better next time out.

Rossi's 2nd place increases his title lead, but Casey Stoner is just 45 points behind and has a new-found confidence. This championship battle should rage on for a lot longer.


B 4 CH said...

good information for MotoGP, thanks

Jimmy said...

Thank you!

Rob said...

Did I mention I was at Donington? Bragging aside, Stoner was brilliant all weekend. Clearly head and shoulders above the rest, Rossi included. Why he felt the need to turn into a whinger on the podium and simply exacerbate the situation is beyond me: skipping a charity do and then crying to the Dorna journo is not the approach of a World Champ. I guess Casey is showing his immaturity - he is still only 22 or so I suppose, a long way from another Doohan. Having said all that, he's quite a rider.

Jimmy said...

Yeah, the worst thing Casey could've done was to whinge about people booing. A lot of the idiots were almost certainly booing because they think he's a whinger. A little more dignity might have helped, but hopefully he'll learn that in time.

JC said...

"certifiable lunatic Jorge Lorenzo, who started so far back on the grid that he could see Marco Melandri without binoculars"

Hysterical - thanks.