Thursday, July 03, 2008

MotoGP: Mid Season Report Card 2008 Part 1

With MotoGP's summer break upon us, it's time to dust off the hoary old favourite: mid season reports. Who gets a gold star, and who gets to sit in the corner, facing the wall and wearing the dunce's cap? In this instalment, the top half of the championship table are scored.

Dani Pedrosa (171 points)
Grade: A
You need 3 things to win a championship. Consistency, consistency, and consistency. Oh yeah, and speed. Little Dani has all four of these qualities, which is why he is leading the championship at the half-way point. He hasn't finished lower than 4th, and on his day he can still disappear into the distance. If he keeps this up, he'll be world champion. Gold star.

Valentino Rossi (167 points)
Grade: A-
First season on Bridgestone tyres, and Vale has already been on top of the podium. 2nd in the title race by just 4 points, despite an 11 place at Assen where he fell off and remounted after skittling de Puniet. Still looking good for a championship challenge.

Casey Stoner (142 points)
Grade: A- (with distinction in whingeing)
Stoner started the season brilliantly, but soon went off the boil, complaining bitterly about the Ducati. However, at Donington he found a setup change that tamed the bike and regained his crushing dominance. Then started complaining bitterly about the crowd instead. At Assen there was nothing to complain about at all. Looking very ominous as a championship prospect, despite the 29 point deficit to Dani.

Jorge Lorenzo (114 points)
Grade: A-
His first few races were a revelation, setting pole positions aplenty and winning a race. Then it all went wrong with a string of massive crashes. He is now rebuilding, with a couple of incredible races through the pack in the last 2 rounds. His sheer talent is undeniable, and his consistency is returning. Best rookie by a million miles.

Colin Edwards (98 points)
Grade: B+
You just can't get rid of the Texas Tornado. Blisteringly fast in qualifying trim, but not quite as good in the race. Usually a podium threat, he has already staked his claim to remain in MotoGP next year.

Andrea Dovizioso (79 points)
Grade: B
Dovi has been hit and miss, as you would expect from a rookie fresh from the 250GP class. He has also been involved in his fair share of physical hits, with the odd collision here and there. A hugely impressive rookie season so far, though out shadowed by his old sparring partner Jorge Lorenzo.

Nicky Hayden (70 points)
Grade: C+
The Kentucky Kid hasn't had a good year so far. Blown away by his team mate in every single race, he still can't get used to the 800cc Honda (which was designed for Pedrosa, admittedly). Even when he looks good, Lady Luck bites him on the rear end. He must have used up every scrap of good fortune winning the 2006 world championship. Needs a change of scene.

James Toseland (60 points)
Grade: B-
Nobody expected Toseland to adapt from a big, squishy 1000cc superbike to a tiny, rock hard 800cc MotoGP bike as well as he has. Initially annoying various people by overtaking them WSBK-style ("Wham! Bam! Out of my way, man!"), he has quieted down lately, suffering from lack of set-up time in the last few wet-dry race weekends. Fell at his home race when the pressure built too high. Needs to keep working hard for the 2nd half of the season, but already has next year's contract signed, so not under massive pressure yet.

Chris Vermeulen (57 points)
Grade: C
The Suzuki isn't the bike to have this year, but the Aussie hasn't exactly set the bush alight either. There is a very real danger that he will lose his seat at the end of the year, and none of the likely alternatives are up to much. Needs to up his pace, particularly in qualifying, or he could find himself in a satellite squad next year, or even back in WSBK.

Shinya Nakano (57 points)
Grade: C
There was a time when Shinya looked great aboard the Kawasaki, but those days are long gone. He is basically doing a Tamada, sliding gracefully down the order. Good weekends are becoming fewer and further between. Without a very good 2nd half of the season, he could end up in World Supers, though being the only Japanese rider provides him with some protection.

That rounds out the top 10 riders in the championship table. Next time out, the boys from the back of the class will be graded. Who will win that dunce's cap?


Kropotkin said...

"Who will win that dunce's cap?"

Easy. Begins with "M" and rhymes with "Elandri" ...

Jimmy said...

Hmmmm... We'll find out if you're correct in the next thrilling instalment that will cover the losers, underachievers, no-hopers and number maker-uppers.