Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gran Premio de Espana: Asphalt Roller Fiat-Yamaha #46 dominates

Last Sunday in Jerez the Doctor won in a way that reminded to most of us the victories of his “beloved” competitor, Max Biaggi. Pedrosa had a good start but in a few turns was overtaken and relegated to a comfortable second position for the rest of the race. Since the first few laps I noticed the little Spaniard eagerly spinning the rear tire right from the mid corner revealing that he was trying to get closer to Valentino to gain back what he had lost at the entrance of each turn. In the same way we have already noticed in Qatat, despite his weight advantage and the smaller bike, Pedrosa is not able to match Valentino’s entrance corner speed: they start braking together but Rossi seems to apply less pressure on his brakes and use a bit more the last part of his line going to the apex to scrape the extra speed. I would not be surprised by the difference in skills if we were comparing Valentino to Hayden, but not to a former 250cc World Champion matador. My reading is that Dani is still not very comfortable with the front end of his bike and, also, that he is aiming to win the crown by being extremely consistent. He wants to collect each and every possible point, hoping to capitalize his strategy if Rossi should suffer some sort of problem during the season.
Colin Edward got the third place, a result that confirms the successful winter development of the new Yamaha and pleases greatly FIAT, the new Yamaha sponsor.
In fourth position we had Elias: a great race for Toni, too bad that he started cranking fast laps too late to remain attached to the front train. Stoner got 5th, enough to maintain the second place in the Championship with Pedrosa. It’s interesting to notice that both of them are 21 year old, and with Jerez they have took away respectively from Capirossi and Hayden the role of team main riders. To be honest the Kentucky Kid had an incredible start and fought for the 4th position for some time until the deteriorated tires started to slow down his pace and affecting his lines.
My praise goes to Checa for an incredible weekend that unfortunately didn’t produce the deserved podium. After the race, very philosophically, he explained that Sunday the temperature were lower than expected and he didn’t have a good feeling from the bike for the fist half of the race.
Finally a big clap for Hopper: he was the protagonist of a great race with increasingly faster laps that unfortunately ended when he washed the front tire right after passing Hayden for the fourth place.

In three weeks the MotoGp will be in Turkey, a track where Rossi want absolutely to win after last year experience. At that time he started in 11th position, overshot a turn losing almost 3” and getting a final 4th position. Melandri won that race over an impressive Stoner. I personally see again the Asphalt Roller Fiat-Yamaha #46 to crash his competitors, in order, Pedrosa and Stoner.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

MotoGp Poll: Gran Premio de Espana

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As per our poll rules I could not include Capirossi as potential candidate to the second place, but after his crash in Qatar and Stoner's victory on "his" bike we know that the big little italian man is going to fight hard to prove that he is still the first rider in the Ducati team.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Grand Prix of Qatar: Australian "canguru" wins on Italian red missile

In the first race of the season we could have had a final classification with riders stretched in longer time span if it wasn't for Rossi slowing down, somehow, the Australian rider on his new Italian missile. The Ducati was much faster than any other bike: in practice Stoner reached 324.7 km/h, much faster than Rossi’s 309.9 km/h and Pedrosa 317.9km/h. The red bike from Borgo Panicale has always been fast over the years, but the extra speed was seldom matched by appropriate stability and grip. Last year, after winning his first race with a bike sliding sideway in every turn of the circuit,Capirossi was compared to a red crab by his fans.
Last Saturday, instead, Casey Stoner looked outstanding on a bike that seemed solid, precise, reasonably quick in changing direction and … fast, very fast. On every lap he stormed Rossi on the front straight: it didn’t matter how many bikes of distance the Tavullia champion had on him at the exit of the last turn, because regardless, Stoner was able to pass his opponent in half straight and gain, maybe, another 70-90 ft by the end of the fornt stretch. Only because of Rossi’s immense talent and his desire to re-conquest the lost World Champion title, we were able to actually see some dicing in the infield. Indeed Rossi, strong of an impeccable Fiat-Yamaha was able to carry much more speed at the entrance of turn 1 so that at the exit of the same turn he was already back on the tail of the young Ducati rider. From there, during the race Rossi has launched his assalts passing the Australian youngster several times: on the brakes or on the outside of a turn leading to an opposite twist. Well, anytime Rossi has been able to pull in front the Ducati, his lead was then wiped out on the front long straight as if Stoner was still riding last year bike.

On the other end Pedrosa’s extra speed was not enough to challenge either Stoner or Rossi, but good enough to put him on the third step of the podium. In a few occasion it seemed that he had passed Rossi toward the end of the front straight but once on the brakes he could not match Valentino's higher entrance speed. As we have already noticed last year, it seems that Pedrosa is still not used to “Rossi’s confidence” when it comes to tight passing. Someone has claimed that Danny is still paying his easy years in 125cc and 250cc when he often won after passing his opponents and taking off to lead the race until the end. Conversely last Saturday he ended up suffering even Hopkin's pressure who, fighting the pain of the recent injuries and a poor performance in his last winter test, pulled out an incredible race for which he almost won a final third place.
There is not much to say about the rest of the riders, including the World Champion Nicky Hayden for his meager 8th place that looks even worse if we consider that two riders have crashed in front of him: Ceca and … Capirossi. Last year, Bayliss stole a secure victory from Capirossi and last Saturday his new teammate was doing it again. Maybe this situation was really bothering him, anyhow after a bad start due to a contact with another rider, Capirossi had unleashed the extra power of his bike to try to catch the front riders but unfortunately he low-sided when in 5th position. Was he pushing too much? Did he trail brake to much? Or was he exploring faster lines? In any case he wasted a secure podium and 16 points that could have been useful for the Championship especially now that the even the young Aussie is in the list of potential winners. As matter of the fact, Stoner has already displayed a cocky attitude: after being asked "... how does it feel to have a 7 time World Champion attached on your tail for the whole race?"... he said something very similar to “ …It was like to have anybody else behind”.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

MotoGp Poll: Grand Prix of Qatar

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Like we did last season ...., I don't want to ask who is going to win Sunday because it will reduce too much the number of potential riders. For every race I am going to suggest the first 7 riders in the championship as candidates to "miss the victory", and in case we have the same rider classifying 2nd twice consecutively, in the next poll we will try to guess the 3rd place rider's name. Scroll up and down to read the whole list and click on one of the choices. The poll will be immediately updated.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

FIAT-Yamaha: a venture at 6 wheels

And after at least a couple of months of speculation the strangest marriage in town has taken place. To my knowledge this is the first time that in Motogp 4 wheels leverages 2 for promotional purposes. I have recently learned that in Italy, Opel, the European GM division, has been buying commercial time during motorcycling races at least to improve the brand positioning among millions of Italian MotoGp viewers. If anything, to me cars are the most immediate link to motorcycles because they share at least speed and technology. I would see myself more prone to switch from Nissan to FIAT because of their new testimonials than to start smoking cigarettes because of the yellow Camel that we have seen in the recent years. Or, I would see myself suddenly interested in rally because of Valentino racing with a new FIAT car, than to follow the latest oil drilling adventures of the Repsol Group because of the Spaniard talent, Danny Pedrosa.
Anyhow, the bikes look great: they have chosen a graphic where the classic blue Yamaha recalls at the same time the classic color of the World Champion Italian soccer team outfit. For the logo FIAT they have used the simple “old” font characterized on top by the green-white-red colors of our flag. If we look at the graphics that Vanjey Design had recently speculated, I am under the impression that FIAT & Yamaha have agreed for a graphic solution that leaves more representation to the Japanese company.
In an interview, even this one unfortunately in Italian, Rossi has mentioned that because of the bad luck suffered last year he has chosen different superstitious solutions but, I want to add, that he has not changed the use of his favorite color, yellow, on the bike and on his leather suit.

Only a few days to go for the first race of the season: good luck to everybody hoping that the best, only the best wins the 2007 World MotoGp Championship