Rossi’s “Yamaha Moment ” at Jerez

The controversy over the crash on Lap 8 of the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez at Round Two is not, in my mind, a controversy.  I have not viewed any of the press conference video.  I watched the race twice and have given the crash some thought.

For Valentino Rossi, the crash was a small, unexpected dream briefly coming true, in which he sought to bury Stoner and Lorenzo on the mythical Italian Desmosedici.  For a few laps in Jerez, The Doctor felt what it might feel like to dominate the premier class on the GP11.  Until Lap 8. 

Lap 8 was, for Rossi, what will be known as a “Yamaha Moment.”  Probably not the last.

Rossi has spent pretty much every waking moment since Valencia in 2010 working on his shoulder and his bike, with virtually nothing to show for his efforts, until the early laps of the race itself, in which he is suddenly, well,  flying.  He may be forgiven for being transported, momentarily, to his salad days at Jerez, when he wore blue, white and red.  He could actually win the 2011 race as a long shot and silence his critics.  Present company included.

On Lap 1, he dawdled to eighth.  By Lap 7, he was third, and was taking aim at Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, and the lead.  Watching him enter the fateful turn, I see the amazed and amazing Rossi lean into a gap between Stoner and Lorenzo.  It is at this moment that his lizard brain takes over.  No more math.

The lizard has spent the last seven years on the Yamaha YZR-M1. 

The lizard grabbed the gas and aimed for daylight.  In his Yamaha days, Rossi would emerge from the curve in first place running in clean air.  In the Yamaha days, the lizard would be down the road.  History.  Scalded.  Rabbit. 

On the Desmosedici, Rossi discovered that he’s no longer in Kansas, and mimicked so many of Stoner’s lost front ends in 2010.  That he managed to eradicate Stoner in the process is ironic, unfortunate and unintentional.  That he fell at all must have come as a humbling surprise to Rossi.  The unsympathetic lizard has lost interest and slithers away. 

Would Valentino Rossi have attempted that move five years ago?  Would Valentino Rossi have attempted ANY move five years ago he wasn’t virtually certain he could finish?  So, I believe, Rossi’s crash was a complete surprise, which means he really shouldn’t be criticized for taking Stoner out.  He’s freaking Valentino Rossi.  He knows how to time a passing move in a corner. 

After the crash he fell to 15th place but finished fifth, meaning he was turning quick laps after the crash. 

And guys were crashing out in front of him.  

Perhaps Rossi gained something at Jerez.  He has now had the GP11 perform up to expectations once; he knows the podium is at least possible.  He has a month to play with the current bike, waiting for the New and Improved “Vale” bike to arrive from Bologna.  

And the shoulder to improve, too.  Always the shoulder with this guy now, for a year already.  Jeesh.  Shoulder looked okay at Jerez, both before and after the crash.

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