Posts Tagged ‘HRC’

MotoGP 2018 Losail Results

March 18, 2018

DesmoDovi Punks Marquez for Early Season Lead

© Bruce Allen. Exclusive to Motorcycle.com

The season opener at Losail went mostly according to expectations, which is to say it was crowded up front. At one point I counted nine bikes in the lead group, a sight normally seen in Moto3. French sophomore Johann Zarco led from pole most of the day, fueling a lot of premature trash talk. Once his tires went up, though, it came down to Dovizioso and Marquez for early bragging rights. Round One goes to the Italian on points. No TKO.

Practice and Qualifying

Of the top ten riders on the combined practice timesheets, the top five included, as most of you know, three Ducs and both Suzukis. The factory Hondas sat 6th and 7th. Crutchlow, Rossi and Zarco also made it straight into Q2, wiping up the rear, as it were. Jack Miller got hot on his GP17 during Q1 and moved through to Q2, followed by Vinales, who also found something late in the day. Both appeared to be capable of making noise in Q2. Overall, Dovizioso led three of the four practice sessions (Zarco the other), topping the charts for the Q2 cabal. KTM had nothing going on, but Aprilia was showing signs of life, Aleix sitting 12th after FP3.

Q2 was seriously better than a lot of races. Fifteen minutes of straight adrenaline, with the last three minutes simply breathtaking. Riders including Dovi, Marquez, Lorenzo and Rins took turns aiming at the 10-year old track record set by white-hot rookie Lorenzo to open the 2008 season, falling short each time. But on the day’s last lap, the remarkable Johann Zarco, who we refuse to call The Flying Frenchman, pedaling his two-year old Yamaha, put down a vapor trail, crushing Lorenzo’s former record by 2½ tenths and substantially raising the price of poker in the Zarco contract sweepstakes for 2019-20. Not to mention administering a facial to factory riders Rossi (8th) and Vinales (12th). “Hey Johann, it’s that Honda guy again on line 2.”

Marquez and Petrucci, as expected, ended Q2 second and third, respectively, both also breaking the previous record. My pick for pole, Dovizioso, held it for quite some time before sagging to the middle of the second row during the final two minutes. Interesting that the first two rows of riders, all of whom appear capable of winning on Sunday, exclude three genuine Aliens—Lorenzo, Rossi and Vinales. As Steven Stills sang eons ago, “There’s something happening here.” Several weeks ago we suggested “track records appear set to fall like dominos.” Even without qualifying tires.

Batting a thousand so far on that one. [And can’t you still hear the separate guitar parts in “For What It’s Worth?” Boom.] Saturday evening, Zarco said his race pace was a concern. Right. I hope everyone got to watch the interview with Marc Marquez in which the clever young Brit interviewer managed to get him to admit, smiling widely, that tire selection for the race is very important and no we are not yet sure which tires we will use tomorrow. Wow. We journalists really get down to it sometimes.

A Race for the Ages

The 2018 Qatar Motorcycle Grand Prix unfolded as if it had been scripted. The hot French sophomore on the two-year old Yamaha—let’s call him Johann Zarco–took the hole shot from pole and led a snappish bunch of veteran riders on a merry chase for 16 laps. Suddenly, his tires turned to cheese, and those veterans began going through, Sherman-through-Georgia style. Both Dovizioso and Marquez passed through at Turn 1 of Lap 17, with Rossi following suit later in the lap. Ultimately, Cal Crutchlow, Danilo Petrucci, Maverick Vinales and Dani Pedrosa would push the impudent Gaul to 8th place. In golf they say you drive for show, putt for dough. In MotoGP, you gotta save some tire for late in the race.

It was on Lap 21 that the contenders stepped in for the pretenders. Andrea Dovizioso, who had seized the lead on Lap 17, invited Marquez to a private tête-à-tête for the last three laps, an invitation the defending champion eagerly accepted. With Rossi reduced to lurking in 3rd, hoping for something to go wrong in front of him, the two best riders on Earth squared off for six minutes of unbridled, hair-raising battle, exchanging haymakers. Marquez, unable not to make a move on Dovi at some point, finally took his shot at Turn 16 on the final lap, in a virtual replay of the Red Bull Ring and Motegi duels the two fought last year. Consistent with those contests, Dovi took advantage of his superior corner exit speed to clip Marquez by 2/100ths of a second and take a narrow early lead in the 2018 title chase.

Some Days Chicken, Some Days Feathers

In addition to Dovizioso and Marquez, riders who could anticipate a tasty chicken dinner this evening include Rossi, who did manage to climb from 8th to 3rd, and Franco Morbidelli, who edged Hafizh Sayahrin for the top rookie participation trophy. Sayahrin, for his part, became the first Malaysian rider ever to start a MotoGP race and score points therein, a record he can never lose. Kudos to the luckiest rider on the grid. Jack Miller and Tito Rabat probably feel pretty good this evening, crossing the line in 10th and 11th places, respectively.

Riders going hungry tonight include Alex Rins, Jorge Lorenzo and Pol Espargaro, all of whom crashed out, Rins while traveling in 6th position. Zarco learned a lesson today. Maverick Vinales learned his lesson yesterday while laying an egg in Q2, starting from 12th place. He rode a hellified second half today, only to end up 6th. Not a disaster, but an opportunity lost. Scott Redding, who has apparently already lost his seat for next year to Danilo Petrucci, can say only that he managed to beat Xavier Simeon, a feat comparable to winning the Taller than Mickey Rooney contest.

Over in the Junior Leagues

Spaniard Jorge Martin stiff-armed countryman Aron Canet for the win in the Moto3 race, with the new guy at Leopard Racing, Lorenzo Dalla Porta, glomming onto the third podium spot milliseconds ahead of about six other guys. Enea Bastianini, taking over the #1 seat at Leopard with the graduation of 2017 champion Joan Mir to Moto2, crashed out of a podium spot, giving an ominous start to his 2018 campaign.

Pecco Bagnaia, late of the SKY Racing Team VR46, held on to the Moto2 win today, narrowly evading the clutches of Lorenzo Baldassarri, in a thrilling contest that also came down to the last turn. Little Brother Alex Marquez, who had been fast all weekend, started from pole and was cruising along in 3rd position, well within reach of the Marquez Moto2 Brakes on Fireleaders, when his rear brakes pinched the disc and, inexplicably, held on, at which point the disc quickly cooked, changed color from gray to red to white, back to gray when they finally came unstuck, killing his chances for the win but allowing him a podium nonetheless.

Unsubstantiated Rumors

Bagnaia, according to news reports, has already signed a contract to join Jack Miller with Alma Pramac Ducati next season. The dominoes look set to fall such that Petrucci heads over to Gresini Aprilia, and Redding for points west. Apparently Honda has the early inside track to sign Zarco to the factory team to ride alongside Marquez starting next year, with Pedrosa being shown the door, as feared. Earliest silly season I can ever remember. Rossi signed for two more years last week, in case you’ve been hanging out under a rock.

Rider Rankings After Round One

Tranche 1: Marquez, Dovizioso, Rossi, Petrucci, Crutchlow
Tranche 2: Vinales, Zarco, Rins, Pedrosa, Miller
Tranche 3: Lorenzo, Iannone, Syahrin, A Espargaro, Morbidelli
Tranche 4: P Espargaro, Abraham, Bautista, Rabat
Tranche 5: Simeon, Redding, Nakagami, Smith, Luthi

Before you take to DISQUS to shred my rankings, remember Allen’s Corollary to Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

Argentina in two weeks. Be there. Aloha.

 

2015 MotoGP Indianapolis Results

August 9, 2015

By Bruce Allen.  Exclusive to Motorcycle.com

Marquez wins Battle of Indy; Yamaha still winning the war

What is likely to be the final Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix today produced two memorable shootouts. Up front, defending Honda world champion Marc Marquez dogged Yamaha stud Jorge Lorenzo for 24 laps before stealing his lunch money at Turn 1 of Lap 25 and holding the Mallorcan off for the final three laps. The undercard featured Yamaha icon Valentino Rossi and Repsol #2 Dani Pedrosa in an equally riveting daylong battle for third place. Rossi prevailed after half a dozen lead changes over the last 10 laps, keeping his string of 2015 podia intact and his lead over teammate Lorenzo at nine points.

Alex RinsComing on the heels of a breathtaking Moto2 tilt, with a front group of five riders, eventually won by rookie and soon to be MotoGP pilot Alex Rins, the MotoGP race was much more of a mano a mano affair. Kind of a Noah’s Ark thing, the animals boarding two by two. A pair here, a pair there…

At the start, Lorenzo rocketed out of the three hole to lead the pack into Turn 1, trailed by Marquez, Pedrosa, Ducati #1 Andrea Iannone, Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith and Rossi, whose loss today was once again assured in qualifying on Saturday. By the end of Lap 5 Rossi had taken over fourth place, and the lines were drawn. At that point, Rossi trailed Pedrosa by 1.6 seconds, but you got the impression that the Italian marvel wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

2014 MotoGP World ChampionBy Lap 14, Rossi trailed Pedrosa by a mere three tenths. While Lorenzo continued to lead Marquez, who appeared to be biding his time letting Jorge do the “donkey work,” I made a quick note: Y H H Y –> H Y Y H. This was my shorthand prediction that the Yamahas would move from positions one and four to finish second and third. Midway through the race, my suspicion that Marquez would eventually take down Lorenzo while Rossi outraced Pedrosa was, in the end, rewarded. Prior to the race I had envisioned two Hondas and one Yamaha on the podium; that prediction turned out wrong by 18/100ths of a second, Rossi’s margin over Pedrosa at the line.

At this point in 2015 there can be no argument that Marc Marquez has returned to his otherworldly form of the past two seasons. For the first 25 laps today he was maintaining strict control of his RC213V, not throwing the front into the turns and waiting for the rear to show up. Once he made his move on Lorenzo he engaged his “reckless abandon” setting and turned the dogs loose. Lorenzo would get close several times over the last three laps, but he wasn’t going to get past young Marquez late in the day. Pedrosa, who had improved steadily between Friday morning and Sunday, qualifying second, appeared ready, willing and able to podium today. There was a time when Pedrosa would have taken on the two leaders once his fuel load dropped, but that day appears to have passed.Rossi

Rossi, for his part, will either figure out how to deal with the 15 minute qualifying sessions or see perhaps his last best chance for a tenth world championship vanish before his eyes. He may be the fastest raceday rider on the grid, but his habit of consistently digging himself a hole on Saturday and trying to climb out on Sunday will eventually burn him. Lorenzo, much more interested in Rossi than Marquez, adjusted his strategy for qualifying, opting for three runs rather than two, simply in an effort to gain a front row start today. Had qualifying been limited to 13.5 minutes rather than 15, Lorenzo would have started at the back of the second row, his race strategy blown. This year, more than any year in recent memory, races are being won and lost on Saturday.

Elsewhere on the Grid

Ducati #1 Andrea Iannone qualified seventh and finished fifth today on his 26th birthday while teammate Andrea Dovizioso went seriously walkabout at Turn 2 of Lap 1, re-entered the race in last place, i.e., behind Toni Elias, and pedaled his posterior off for a distasteful ninth place finish. Dovizioso, once the model of consistency and control, had amassed a total of four (4) points in the previous four rounds before hitting a seven point jackpot today.

Iannone barely held off Brit Bradley Smith and his Tech 3 Yamaha, nose thoroughly out of joint over the fact that his teammate, Pol Espargaro, who trails him in the 2015 standings by 24 points, received a shiny new contract with the team for next year while Smith received bupkus. (I gotta think it’s the hair, or lack thereof.)
Anyway, Espargaro held off LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow today for seventh place while rising Octo Pramac star Danilo Petrucci, who had received a major tow on Saturday into a second row start, completed the top ten riders.

The two Suzuki guys had utterly forgettable weekends in Hoosierville. Rookie Maverick Vinales qualified ninth and finished 11th, while the elder Espargaro, Aleix, dawdled through Q2 to start 12th and could only manage a 14th place finish. While it’s safe to say the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is not terribly friendly to any of the manufacturers, it seems distinctly unfriendly to the Suzukis. Team Ecstar will probably be thrilled to see Indianapolis fall off the calendar next year.

Just for the record, lest I be accused of ignoring the only American on the grid, Nicky Hayden had a criminally bad hair day today on his way to finishing 16th. Kind of a weak semi-mullet with a painfully lame mini-ponytail on top. The kind of haircut that would be much better suited to World Super Bike.

The Big Picture

Movistar Yamaha maintains control of the 2015 championship, with Rossi on top of Lorenzo by nine points and Lorenzo leading Marquez by 47. Even though Marquez has gathered 70 points over the last three rounds, Rossi has earned 57 and Lorenzo 49. At this rate, Marquez will not catch Rossi until Round 24, a virtual impossibility in an 18 round season. Iannone holds a solid grip on fourth place, 32 points ahead of Smith and 35 points ahead of former Ducati #1 Dovizioso. Despite having started three fewer races due to injury, Pedrosa now leads wannabe Alien Cal Crutchlow by six points, with Pol Espargaro a single point farther back. Vinales rounds out the top ten with 62 points.

Looking Ahead

It’s a short week until Round 11 at Brno, The Circuit That Desperately Needs a Vowel. Forward Racing is slated to perform its swan song in the Czech Republic, with the pitiable Loris Baz riding their last open class Yamaha until and unless he breaks it prior to the race. Karel Abraham figures to return to his Cardion AB Honda, since all his aunts and uncles will be there cheering for him to earn a point or two.

Brno is one of those long flowing circuits that tend to favor the Yamahas, so Marc Marquez will need to bring his A game if he intends to continue to cut the gap between himself and the Bruise Brothers. This doesn’t appear to present much of a problem, in that he once again looks unbeatable. But there don’t appear to be enough battles left to allow him to win The War of 2015.

Indy 2015 Capture

 

 

YTD Top TenCapture