Category Archives: moto gp

Pit Stop – Moto Gp Test is Routine – By Lewis Brearley

Last week’s news was dominated by the first Formula One pre-season test and analysis of the varying fortunes of the teams’ new cars and revolutionary new engines.

Therefore, this week has seemed pretty quiet when compared to the flurry of news last week. This pretty much reflects the difference between Formula One and MotoGP’s approach to testing.

The teams of MotoGP had their first pre-season test at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia this week and the lack of rule changes in the sport resulted in a pretty quiet and undramatic three days.

However it would be greatly untrue to say there are no stories to report. Going in to the test it was unknown who would be fastest out of last year’s championship contenders – Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez.

But it was Marquez on his Honda who came out on top, the champion setting the fastest time on each of the three days. Yet it is too early to say the new season looks set to be dominated by Marquez.

Yamaha ended the test only two tenths behind, the fastest time set by Valentino Rossi who managed to outpace Lorenzo on each of the days.

Rossi has stated in the off-season that he will take a decision to continue beyond the 2014 season after the first six races providing his pace is improved from last year.

With this in mind, his pace at the test was very promising but with the obvious caveat that Lorenzo may have been pushing to a lesser degree than his team mate.

A second story to come out of the test was the promising pace of the “open-class” bikes, with the Forward Yamaha ridden by Aleix Espargaro managing to get within two tenths of Lorenzo’s works machine.

For those unaware of the biggest rule change in MotoGP this year, the open class is the replacement of the CRT category. In exchange for an increased fuel capacity of 24 litres as opposed to 20 litres teams have to use a standard ECU which will be controlled by the FIM.

The plan was that the new category would get closer to the factory bikes than the CRT bikes did and the performance of the bikes in the test seemed to confirm this.

In fact, the rumours that Ducati have opted to make their new bike conform to the open class rules shows how promising the class is.

However, the biggest mystery out of the test is why Ducati didn’t confirm which class their new bike was designed for.

For the first two days the Ducatis were grouped around 1.5-2.0 seconds off the lead pace and then on the final day Andrea Dovizioso managed to set a lap just 0.8 seconds behind Marquez.

This difference of lap times increased speculation that Ducati had been running both factory and open class bikes in the test to see which one was best. Yet which one of the two variations Dovizioso was running when he set his fastest time is still unknown.

Whichever version Ducati choose to compete with it’s unlikely that they will be racing the lead Yamahas and Hondas, who once again showed supreme pace. The only question remaining is whether Rossi and Dani Pedrosa can turn the championship battle from a duel into a four man competition.

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Pit Stop – All down to last race – By Lewis Brearley

This weekend sees the 18th and final chapter of the globetrotting duel that is the 2013 MotoGP world championship.

At Valencia, either Marc Marquez – the current leader by 13 points – or Jorge Lorenzo – the current champion – will take this year’s title.

For only the second time in 20 years, the battle has come down to the final round. It’s a fitting statistic as both of the contenders have raced at a standard rarely seen in this sport.

Both Marquez and Lorenzo have been superb all season with only the odd mistake to blot their record. Marquez has been the luckier of the two, with just a dislocated shoulder at Silverstone and a badly grazed hand at Mugello on his injury list. Lorenzo, meanwhile fractured his left collarbone and injured his shoulder after making a mistake in practice at Assen.

This cost him points, despite a magnificently brave ride, at Assen and the following race at the Sachsenring where he exacerbated the injury after a second practice crash forced him out of the race altogether.

Marquez took advantage of this free hand to start a run of four consecutive victories in the middle of the season, which made him the championship leader by 43 points with just three rounds to go.
But Phillip Island had a surprise in store, or rather Bridgestone’s inability to make a tyre last the full race distance did. The race was made into a two part affair with a mandatory pitstop enforced on laps 10-11.

When Marquez pitted on lap 12 eyebrows were raised and much to Honda’s embarrassment and anger, the black flag was given to Marquez. With Lorenzo taking the win and the 25 points, the lead was down to just 18 with two races remaining.

Honda claimed it was a team decision and that they had been led to believe a stop on lap 12 was allowed as only 11 laps would have been completed by Marquez. However, it’s much easier to believe this was just an excuse for Marquez missing his pit board. With all the brainpower present in the Honda garage, a simple bit of maths is unlikely to have stumped them.

The confusion and controversy of Australia followed by Lorenzo’s victory in Motegi, means Marquez leads by 13 points going into the finale. But that is the important bit – Marquez leads. He only needs a fourth place finish even if Lorenzo wins and Marquez hasn’t finished lower than third all year. Marquez has the advantage.

However, Valencia in November can serve up a few shocks. Last year it rained and Dani Pedrosa won after starting from the pit lane. In 2006 Valentino Rossi ended up in the gravel and gifted the title to Nicky Hayden.

Marquez too could easily end up in the gravel if he hits a damp patch, or the pressure finally gets to him. The only thing that’s certain is that it’s going to be a thrilling finale.

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Pit Stop – F1 and Moto GP last Weekend – By Lewis Brearley

Last weekend was one of those rare ones where both Formula One and MotoGP races happened. And at Suzuka and Sepang, the respective championships became a practical foregone conclusion.

In Formula One, Sebastian Vettel took a fifth successive victory – the first time such a streak has happened since Schumacher did it twice in 2004 – meaning his only remaining rival needs to win all four remaining races to even have a chance of stealing it away from him.

Meanwhile over in MotoGP, Marc Marquez took an easy second position finish behind his team mate, which gave him a 43 point lead with three races remaining.

If you only watch motorsport for a close and nail-biting championship battle then this probably leaves you disappointed. However, if you wish to see excellence from people mastering their sports then the 2013 championships are still absorbing stuff.

It has long been the nature of motorsport that some years provide closer championships than others. If you still feel like tuning out of either or even both of the championships, think again because there are many reasons to stick around.

The Japanese grand prix saw Romain Grosjean exorcise himself from the horrors of his previous season with a stunning drive to third place. While last year he ambled straight into Mark Webber at the first turn, this time round he led Webber for the duration of the first stint and was by far and away the best non-Red Bull performer, with Fernando Alonso a 36 seconds further back.

Over in Malaysia, Dani Pedrosa put his long win drought to an end and triumphed over Marquez. Even if Marc was taking it slightly easy with a championship in mind, it was still a great win for Pedrosa, who had looked demoralised in the face of his rookie sensation team mate for much of the season.

One fully reliable gauge of measuring excellence is when someone makes it seem a predictability. Marc Marquez finishing second is a disappointment to some. Many put Vettel’s Japanese victory down to his machine, his RB9 and team preference. They say Red Bull sabotaged Webber to hand their favoured son victory with the hope of sealing another title.

However these conspiracy theorists forget the many obvious flaws in their theory. Such as Christian Horner’s televised quote about liking to see Webber take a win before his career ends. Such as the fact Red Bull weren’t sure which strategy was best even as the race began. Or the fact Webber was unable to look after his tyres as well as Vettel during the first stint, which led to worse tyre degradation. They forget Webber’s lap times on his last set of fresh rubber put him on course to race Vettel in the last few laps until Vettel overtook Grosjean as soon as he was able to, while Webber didn’t and hence couldn’t catch his team mate.

It’s true that the Red Bull RB9 is the best racing car in the world. What isn’t true though, is that Sebastian Vettel doesn’t deserve his forthcoming fourth world championship. As glib as it may be to write, he is one of the greats.

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Pit Stop – That Famous Move – By Lewis Brearley

Back in 2009, at the last corner on the last lap at a sunny Circuit de Catalunya, Valentino Rossi swept down the inside of his team mate, the young prodigy Jorge Lorenzo, to snatch victory after a race-long duel.

It wasn’t just a risky overtake to win another race and improve his championship position. It was purposeful psychological hammer blow.
Lorenzo was starting to match Rossi and beat him, and in Spain Rossi sensed his opportunity to put the young charger down a peg or two and remain number one.

It was either a rapid trip into the gravel trap or a win and a crushed Lorenzo, and Rossi knew that 100%. It wasn’t a calculated risk though, it was pure racing instinct.

It worked. Rossi retained his mantle as “the man” and went on to win his seventh title while Lorenzo’s form dropped. Arguably, this one move was responsible for delaying Jorge’s rise to the top by a year.

Just over four years later, Lorenzo did the same thing. At the last corner of the race, against the most promising young charger in the sport – this time, Marc Marquez – he layed down everything to show he was still “the man”.

No one expected it. Everyone watching was still holding their breaths after a penultimate corner pass from Marquez – spectacularly sideways as always. For a moment, it looked as if Marquez had put a hammer blow into Lorenzo. It was going to be five wins in a row, something only the great Rossi has done in the past ten years.

Lorenzo himself said he nearly gave up. Before the weekend he had been growing despondent at how hard he was trying and failing to beat Marquez.

Then in qualifying, after a lap he proclaimed to have been his finest, he was crushed as Marquez still managed to beat him. But he still didn’t give in. He realised he needed to do something, so he dived into the single bike’s width of room Marquez had left open, thanks to his deep approach into the previous corner, standing up Marquez.

It was all or nothing, and just like back in Spain in 2009, the young charger was kicked to the ground. In this race the championship didn’t matter to these two; it was pure pride they were racing for. They both needed the right to call themselves the best in the world; “the man”.

On the podium, Lorenzo looked ecstatic, Marquez was hiding his anger at being beaten with his trademark joker’s grin, and Dani Pedrosa looked more despondent than ever. From being the championship favourite, Dani is now seemingly invisible and his frustration at being a number two is clearly eating away at him.

There is a big caveat to this of course. Marquez was racing injured. Three hours before the lights went out he was in the gravel trap with his left shoulder dislocated. But it turns out he’s tough too this lad. It was popped back in and a pain injection later he was sat back on his works Honda. He must have been performing below 100% then.

Lorenzo won this battle, but Marquez will return. This intense war to be “the man” looks set to continue for some time yet.

This weekend didn’t have just one memorable race. No fans wave their flags with as much gusto and passion as the British and as Cal Crutchlow disappointed expectations and himself with seventh in MotoGP, Scott Redding took a stunning victory in Moto2. A gripping battle between two shining prospects, Scott and Takaaki Nakagami got the Brits cheering.

Redding leads the Moto2 championship, and looks fully ready for his MotoGP graduation next year.

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Pit Stop – Number 1’s – By Lewis Brearley

Last weekend the structure of both the Formula One and MotoGP championships were cemented. Both championships now have a clear favourite, a number one who has momentum definitively on their side.

Marc Marquez and Sebastian Vettel both scored supreme victories, both looked to be in perfect harmony with their respective machines; and both extended their now impressive championship leads.

Marquez won the Czech Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Dani Pedrosa with Jorge Lorenzo third. Worryingly for Yamaha Lorenzo was a fair distance behind and now stands 44 points behind Marquez.

So much praise has been written and spoken about Marquez that it seems futile to add more. But the sheer looks of despair and hopelessness on Pedrosa’s and Lorenzo’s faces is perhaps the highest praise of all.

The two riders who have been dominantly fastest for the past few seasons are being consistently beaten by a twenty year old rookie and as hard as they try, they just can’t beat the guy.

Nobody has ever entered the premier class and took so little time to become at ease. Many predicted time to adapt from the 600cc Moto2 bikes to the demands of the 1000cc beasts. But he doesn’t seem to have adapted. He rides in a spectacular tail-happy fashion which not only apes the man he replaced, Casey Stoner, but seems to take the style to another level beyond.

As much as Lorenzo blames his bike and Pedrosa stays quiet, one thing is certain, that they need to find another level very soon to have any hope of winning the championship.

Over in Belgium, Sebastian Vettel was asserting a crushing dominance over his Formula One rivals. Winning by a huge 16 seconds with apparent pace to spare from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton to give himself a 46 point championship advantage.

Again, the beaten rivals looked truly beaten. Post-race Alonso took to staring at the race timing screen as is his wont as of late. It’s almost as if it’s his last resort, after all the failed developments with his Ferrari, to just hope the situation will magically change.

Yet there was some positives for Alonso. The Ferrari was much better than it had been in the past couple of races where it looked as though Alonso was going to slowly fade away from the championship battle.

Mercedes, on the other hand, were disappointed with third. Looked at objectively it’s a great sign of how far they have come from their troubles that their expectations are now so high. But they really couldn’t afford to drop more points to Vettel, now 58 points ahead.

While Alonso was staring away, Hamilton simply said to Vettel, “too fast.” Indeed he is.

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Pit Stop – Moto GP is back – By Lewis Brearley

After a four week break MotoGP returns this weekend for the first race of a triple header. The races in Indianapolis, Brno and Silverstone will take place back to back and will be critical in the race for the championship.

Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo both need to get back on to the podium after a three-race streak where neither has finished higher than fourth to stop Marc Marquez gaining a sizable championship lead.

The collarbone and shoulder injuries that caused this troubled run of form have had the whole summer break to mend so both riders should be in much better condition to take the battle to the ever improving Marquez.

However, in order to challenge Marquez, both Pedrosa and Lorenzo really need to be 100% and whether that will be the case in still in doubt. They were nowhere near Marquez at the last race at Laguna Seca.

Another obstacle blocking comebacks from the Spanish pair is that the podium battle are much more competitive than they were at the start of the season when it was basically an all-Spanish affair.

Cal Crutchlow has four podiums from the last six races, Valentino Rossi has three podiums in a row; and Stefan Bradl made the leap up after a mighty impressive performance at Laguna Seca.

It won’t just be the championship rivals hoping for more at Indy. Ducati have experienced a dismal first half of the season and are without a podium finish all season.

The disheartening thing for the team though is that no progress seems to be occurring and the team are nowhere near the Hondas and Yamahas. The fact that the next version of the Desmosedici that Ducati had been developing was turned away by their riders for being no better than the current version, is even more worrying.

Where Ducati has gone wrong nobody, not even their own engineers, can seem to tell and that isn’t very promising for their new signing, Crutchlow.

Next season Crutchlow will replace Nicky Hayden on the Italian bikes, having favoured riding a factory effort to a satellite one such as his current Tech 3 Yamaha.

Hayden never seems to have got any sort of handle on his Ducati, even back in 2009 when the team was a regular winner thanks to Casey Stoner. Three podiums in five years on the bike attest to that.

Let’s not forget even Valentino Rossi could only manage three podiums in his two year spell at the team. Whether Crutchlow can emulate Stoner rather than the string of failures will only be known next season, but more pertinently for him is probably whether or not he can get a win this year.

With a bike a couple developments behind Lorenzo’s, he would probably need the world champion to make an error or not be up to full fitness to be top Yamaha, but we’ve seen that he can beat Rossi fair and square.

He got beat by Marquez at the Sachsenring, but could Indianapolis be Crutchlow’s chance to take win number one?

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Pit Stop – Moto GP halfway report- By Lewis Brearley

We’re now at the half-way point of what has been a gripping MotoGP season. It’s been the full package: thrilling races, unpredictable events and captivating rivalries and there’s another nine races still to go.

Pre-season most commentators were predicting a Jorge Lorenzo versus Dani Pedrosa duel with super-rookie Marc Marquez quick enough to race the pair sporadically, but too crash-prone to challenge through the season.

However, at the half-way mark, Marquez leads Lorenzo and Pedrosa and remains the only one of the three without major injuries.

This fact is despite Marquez’s trademark lunges into each and every corner he rides into. Time after time he hurtles into corners at speeds and angles which even Lorenzo and Pedrosa can’t, and only once has he ended up in the gravel during a race.

It was a style he used on his journey up the lower ranks of the sport and through into Moto2. But on 1000cc beasts such as his Honda RC213V, this style is spectacularly difficult to master.

Yet his mistake at the very end of the Italian Grand Prix is also the only reason why Marquez doesn’t have a 100% podium record, an astonishing achievement.

Lorenzo and Pedrosa are desperately unlucky to have succumbed to bad shoulder injuries as their form prior to their incidents was very impressive.

Lorenzo has three wins and Pedrosa has two yet staying on the bike is an important facet of the two wheeled form of racing.

The Spanish duo’s injuries have opened up the podium battles for the past two races though, and Cal Crutchlow, Valentino Rossi and Stefan Bradl have stepped into the limelight.

Rossi keeps promising that his old form is just masked by inadequacies of his Yamaha’s set up and his Assen win was a glorious reminder of what can happen when he gets it right. However, the other eight races have clearly shown that Rossi is just a little step back from the youngsters he’s racing.

As uncomfortable as it may be to talk about the inimitable Italian like that, he is the only top rider in his thirties and age eventually shows its mark even on the very best.

Fifth in the championship is Britain’s promising Cal Crutchlow. In his third season and on a satellite Yamaha, therefore a less developed bike than Rossi’s, Crutchlow often has strong races. He needs to just put a few more parts of the jigsaw together, the biggest piece being better early race pace, and he could become a regular winner.

The only rider outside of this top five to get a podium is Stefan Bradl, who went from an impressive pole position to finish runner-up at Laguna Seca.

After a worrying start to the season, after which Honda began to lose faith in the German leading to the team not signing a contract extension, Bradl’s form has improved drastically in the past two races. This performance jump seems strongly correlated with a decision to change brake pads and it would be unwise now for Honda to abandon this exciting prospect.

However, Honda have another exciting prospect who they believe can lead them to a full era of glory: Marc Marquez.

The hype around Marquez can appear overblown to some; many correctly argue that he is indeed on what seems to be the best bike on the grid. But to those who deny Marquez some respect need to have a little glance at the history books. Valentino Rossi, seven times the champion, began his career in 2000 on one of the best bikes. He took two victories, something Marquez has already surpassed, and finished second in the championship.

Whether it’s a last corner barge at Jerez or a motocross style overtake at the Corkscrew, Laguna Seca, Marquez appears able to do whatever Rossi could.

One thing Rossi didn’t achieve however was a rookie-year championship, something Marquez is currently hurtling towards.

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Pit Stop – Did that just Happen? – By Lewis Brearley

Unbelievable is one of those, alongside fantastic and awesome, which has been systematically stripped and devalued of its original meaning.

But what happened in motorsport last weekend at both Silverstone and Assen was unbelievable in its literal, powerful sense.

On Saturday, the Dutch TT saw Valentino Rossi prove the naysayers wrong as he took his first victory since Sepang 2010. The seven times champion was supported by vast swathes of the on looking fans and suddenly, the glory and energy of Rossi in his prime had returned.

He had put in a performance a step above his recent average and was able to race and beat his young rivals.

Behind the great Italian, the race was one of the most absorbing of recent times. Jorge Lorenzo heroically finished fifth, just two days after fracturing his collarbone in a horrific crash in wet weather. After the race Lorenzo slumped over his handlebars, exhausted after what he personally claimed was his finest performance.

It was undoubtedly his gutsiest and bravest and for his championship hunt could be vital as he only lost two points to Dani Pedrosa.

Pedrosa lost out to his rookie team mate, Marc Marquez and Yamaha satellite rider Cal Crutchlow who was whiskers away from a career best second place finish.

The following day provided further gripping action, this time via the mode of four wheels.

The British F1 grand prix is always one of the most spectacular races of the season, as the cars race around some of the highest speed corners in the world while the track itself is encased by a ribbon of passionate fans.

This year’s race had overtaking right until the chequered flag but was marred by tyre problems. Sergio Perez, Jean-Eric Vergne, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Gutierrez and – most significantly for the British fans and the race itself – Lewis Hamilton all suffered blowouts. While Alonso’s was a slow puncture taking place right before the entrance to the pitlane, the others were spectacular, explosive and dangerous.

Hamilton looked set for a secure win and his tyre failure lost him a costly 25 points. But the bigger issue was of safety. Sizeable pieces of rubber and the metal belt inside them are not appropriate items to be flying around a race track. Kimi Raikkonen took a piece to the head, which fortunately didn’t cause any injury, but Felipe Massa could easily tell you the dangers of loose debris.

It was a public relations disaster for Pirelli, but the teams are right to speak out in support of them. The company has the aim of providing high performance, high degradation tyres while only having a two year old car to test its products on.

Levels of downforce have moved on since then and this has caused unforeseen issues with the constructions.

Changes have been made for this weekend, gone is the metal belt and in is more rigorous running restrictions and camber angles.

More than hoping for an exciting German grand prix, this time let us hope for a safe one.

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Pit Stop – Is it a good track? – By Lewis Brearley

Millions of pounds can be spent by some of the cleverest people to be found researching and developing the perfect layout for an exciting race track. Yet despite racetrack designers’ best efforts, there doesn’t appear to be any formula behind good racetracks.

This fact was proved once again proved at this weekend’s MotoGP meeting. The cobbled-together Le Mans Bugatti circuit, small and tired, looks on paper to be nothing special. But when the motorbikes roll up and the huge French fanbase descends upon the track, the place comes alive and treats fans to regularly thrilling races.

Sunday’s racing began with Maverick Vinales taking a dominant victory from pole position in the Moto3 race. For the third time this season, the podium consisted of the same three Spaniards, Vinales alongside Alex Rins and Luis Salom, while Jonas Folger trailed just behind after spending the first half of the race battling with them.

Things really stepped up a gear with the Moto2 race. After three years of battling against top talent and a rules formula heavily unfavourable to him, Scott Redding finally took his first Moto2 victory and with it, together with the numerous mistakes of his closest rivals, a 24 point championship lead.

The decision to enforce a minimum weight limit on each rider has allowed the six-foot tall Redding to finally prove his immense talent on an equal footing with his much smaller and lighter rivals.

Takaaki Nakagami led away from pole but was one of many of the top riders to make a mistake in the treacherous damp conditions.

Halfway through the race, with the clouds above growing steadily gloomier, Redding was looking imperious with a two second lead over Xavier Simeon, the Belgian heading towards his first podium finish.

It was these very clouds which were to provide a nail-biting finish. As the track got more damp, Simeon and Redding’s own team-mate began to close rapidly on Redding, who was getting uncomfortable with the changing conditions. With his lead ebbing away Redding began signalling for the race to be curtailed and with just two laps to go the red flags were indeed shown, securing the first none-Spanish race win of 2013.

A heavy downpour just after the Moto2 race had finished provided a dash of extra spice for the main event, the MotoGP race.

With the track dry enough for dry tyres but wet enough to require a cautious approach, the MotoGP grid raced off into the first corner. Marc Marquez belied his aggressive reputation with an overly cautious start and by the first corner was already back in ninth, his inexperience of riding a 1000cc bike in the wet glaringly apparent.

Dani Pedrosa took an assured victory and regained the mantle of championship favourite that he had pre-season. Behind him, Cal Crutchlow took a career-best second place and more importantly was easily the top Yamaha rider, with Jorge Lorenzo finishing seventh after struggling with grip problems and Valentino Rossi crashing midway through the race.

Marc Marquez recovered from a shaky first few laps to take a podium, continuing his 100% record. He overtook Andrea Dovizioso with only a couple of laps to go, the Italian’s Ducati performing more strongly than even the team expected in the changeable conditions.

Once again, the old Le Mans track had served up a treat of racing, and in just two weeks MotoGP moves on to another classic track, Mugello.

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Pit Stop – Senor Marquez – By Lewis Brearley

A staccato wag of the finger from a double world champion is the kind of gesture which would have most rookies wetting the bed.

But Senor Marquez is no ordinary rookie is he?

The new, young, Spanish sensation received dismissals from Jorge Lorenzo both in the waiting pen after the race and on the podium after his successive attempts to apologise for his act of last-corner aggression. In response, Marquez coolly shrugged his shoulders and flashed his trademark boyish smile.

He knew he’d run the tightrope of racing etiquette and he knew also that he had got away with it. Riders up and down the grid expressed their acknowledgment of the aggressiveness of the move but they all hinted that they’d probably have done the same thing had they been in the same position.

Valentino Rossi, the seven time champion of the world was one of these riders. It would have been hypocritical, however, if Rossi was to criticise Marquez for the incident after Rossi’s eerily similar antics at the same corner in 2005.

When Jerez hosted the season opening grand prix in 2005, Rossi barged his arch nemesis Sete Gibernau at the last corner to take a controversial victory at Gibernau’s home race no less. However, it’s hard to use this as a guide to how the Lorenzo-Marquez relationship will progress as Rossi and Gibernau were already giving each other the silent treatment way before their Jerez incident.

The refusal of Lorenzo to accept the offered apology signals an aggrievement with the man who was already known as an aggressive rider before he made the step up to MotoGP and who’s success may just be getting to Lorenzo.

Marquez is ahead of every other rookie to ever grace the sport in the speed of his success; he even leads the championship, thanks indeed to the Lorenzo clash.

But enough with the history and the symbolism, what about the events of the race itself?

This season is certainly providing the big battles for the lead long deemed to have been missing from the sport. Lorenzo passed Dani Pedrosa at turn 2 to retake the lead after being outdragged into the first turn by Pedrosa on his Honda. For the next few laps as Lorenzo edged out a gap and his team mate Rossi battled with Marquez, it looked like the Yamaha was the machine to be riding.

Yet as the race progressed the Yamahas slipped back and the Hondas got faster. Pedrosa passed Lorenzo for the lead and pulled away comfortably all the way to the chequered flag.

For those who had already written off Pedrosa’s championship prospects and established a new role for him as Marquez’s number two, the commanding Jerez win was certainly a wake-up call.

Pedrosa showed everyone, after a disappointing start to the season, that the glorious speed which almost took him to his first world title last year remains intact.

With Rossi looking a fading superstar clinging with gritted teeth to the new generation, a three horse race for the championship looks imminent. However bad mannered it may become, it’s certainly going to be compulsive viewing.

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