GRAND PRIX MOTORCYCLE RACING FOR DUMMIES 11/24/2014

Man bites dog.

lin jarvisYamaha factory racing mullah Lin Jarvis declared over the weekend his belief that both Rossi and Lorenzo are capable of beating Repsol Honda double world champion Mark Marquez in 2015.

As if.

Jarvis, better than anyone, knows that the only way either of his current guys wins the world championship in the next two years is if Marquez injures himself.  Always a possibility in this punishing pastime; ask Lorenzo and Pedrosa especially.  At risk from oneself and from others. Difficult to insure.  Etc.

I love it when one the three things I remember from two degrees in economics makes itself useful. Ceteris paribus is the Latin phrase for “all things being equal,” which they never are.  The entire Western economic theoretical construct is based upon a premise that is true in the long run but definitely not true in the short.

Ahem.  Ceteris paribus, Marquez wins the next seven titles for Honda.

Jarvis is being a faithful corporate manager who is telling the bosses what they want to hear.  He is putting pressure on Lorenzo and Rossi to reach deep and become as great as they once were.  He is praying for rain and relying on Marquez’ aggressive riding style to ultimately lead to his, say, missing six rounds in a year and losing the title accordingly.Marquez at Aragon

It could happen.

So could Rossi or Lorenzo winning the title in any year in which Marquez did not injure himself.  It’s mathematically possible, but would be an upset in either case.  To suggest otherwise, as Jarvis did, is to put pressure on ownership, riders and engineers to try to keep up with what Honda is doing to them.

Jarvis’ team–engineering and design people are obviously brilliant.  They are also consistently a step or two behind their Japanese counterparts.  The most recent iteration of this fact is that Honda was first to the seamless transmission up, which later Yamaha put in place and which helped their performance.

Until Honda put in place the seamless downshift model, which Yamaha is currently trying to put together.

Always a step behind.

Rossi at ValenciaIt is unreasonable to assume that Rossi at age 35 is going to improve over the next two years; statistically, his best years are behind him.  Like Michael Jordan playing for the Chicago White Sox, Rossi gave two of his very best years to the Ducati program for naught but roughly €34 million. Rossi is not as good today as he was eight years ago.

One looks at Marquez’ balance and timing, his reflexes, his riding style, which has become the dominant style in the sport, adopted by riders and teams, with design implications, anxious to ride “more like Marquez.”

The current M-1 is not built to ride like the Honda.  It is designed to maintain speed, to enter corners from a different angle than the Hondas, which enjoy an overall advantage in corner exit speeds in those configurations.  The truth remains that at certain tracks–Austin and Argentina come to mind–the Hondas are going to enjoy a tremendous advantage, and that the number of so-called Yamaha-friendly tracks will continue to diminish as Marquez continues to win races.

Marquez vs. Pol Espargaro Moto2

Marquez vs. Pol Espargaro Moto2

The conversation veered to consideration of the so-called “bench,” the next generation of riders plugged into becoming factory Yamaha riders, naming only Pol Espargaro as a sure thing.  Ignoring, for now, the possibility that a 27 year old Tito Rabat would be an interesting successor to Rossi if, indeed, young Alex Marquez ends up as his brother’s teammate at Repsol in 2016.  Espargaro, Jarvis admits, would likely defect if not given a factory ride by the end of the 2016 season.  He seemed to regret the fact that his team was unable to sign Maverick Vinales.

Bottom line:  Jarvis doesn’t believe any of this.  He knows that Marquez on the Honda can beat either Rossi or Lorenzo on the Yamaha at his pleasure, generally as long as he finishes the race.  Marquez will fix his approach to riding in the rain, and that will be that.  Rossi says much the same, knowing how unlikely it is that it might be true.  Lorenzo ain’t talking, but he must be wondering how he will adapt to riding more like Marquez.cropped-alex-and-marc.jpg

One last thought.  We think the elevation of Alex Marquez to the factory Honda team in 2016 is a done deal.  This is a thought to put fear in the hearts of competing teams.

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