MotoGP: 2010 Catalunya Preview

Lorenzo and Pedrosa are hungry for some home cooking

MotoGP correspondent Bruce Allen previews the Catalunya round of the 2010 season. Check back on Monday for the full report of the Catalan Grand Prix.

With the exception of maybe two guys, the racing world figures Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo to win the 2010 MotoGP championship. He leads the entire Sioux nation by 47 points after six races, a pace that would clinch the title at Sepang or Philip Island. The aforementioned two guys, incidentally, ride for Repsol Honda. Dani Pedrosa has spoken out, claiming a puncher’s chance of winning, while teammate Andrea Dovizioso, less publicly, believes he can beat Pedrosa which, in turn, implies he can beat Lorenzo. As Round 7 of the 2010 MotoGP season steams into Barcelona, at least one of these two guys needs to put his money where his mouth is.

Recent history at Montmelo is somewhat encouraging for the factory Honda team. Last year, Dovizioso went toe-to-toe with Casey Stoner for third place, only to get aced by the Australian by 5/100th of a second, and Pedrosa finished sixth. No one noticed any of this, however, as Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi put on a show for the ages, with Rossi stealing the win over his teammate in the final turn of the final lap in a sensational piece of racing. In 2008 Pedrosa won by three seconds over Rossi and Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner, with Dovizioso alone in fourth place. Lorenzo, who had a note from his mom, sat out Catalunya in 2008.

Jorge Lorenzo has four wins and two runner-up finishes in six races. You know someone's good if third place would be a disappointment.

This year, the main thing Lorenzo has going for him, other than a really fast bike and consummate skills, is Positive Mental Attitude, or PMA. Yogi Berra might say that racing is 90% mental and the other half is physical, and Lorenzo, with rival Rossi safely ensconced in his villa in Italy, is running free as a bird. This year, a bad day for Jorge is finishing second. Pedrosa and Dovizioso, on the other hand, must approach each race thinking they have to do something extraordinary – testing the absolute limits of adhesion – in order to overcome the machine-like Lorenzo. Where I come from, this is known as pressing, and it generally inhibits one’s performance. Lorenzo can take the track knowing he needs only to be good; Dani and Dovi must take the track knowing they have to be perfect. That kind of strain will wear on a man.

Casey Stoner Mouths Off

A third of the way through his worst season ever riding for Ducati, we hadn’t heard much from Casey Stoner until this week. Then, after his first appearance on the podium all year – and a third place finish at that – Stoner decides to go off on any number of subjects. Perhaps this was the first time all year he had journalists hanging around looking for sound bites rather than conducting post mortems. At any rate, he was happy to tell Suzuki, Yamaha and Dorna how to run their businesses. As in Suzuki should be forced (!) to field a second two-bike premier class team. As in Yamaha should be, like, banned from the sport for nominating a 41 year-old Japanese test rider as Rossi’s replacement for the middle of the season. As in Dorna should do whatever it takes – whatever that is – to put more bikes on the grid each week.

Come on, Casey. Tell us what you really think.

Here’s an idea, Casey. Go out and win a race. Better yet, go out and win a couple of races, right now, and put yourself back in the championship conversation. Your Ducati team has a grand total of one more podium this season than the poor schlubs at Suzuki. Yamaha is doing just fine, too, without your advice. Perhaps you have some free advice for the suits in Bologna – for whom you are an employee

that might improve their racing program. Or maybe you have some suggestions for your future employers at Honda, whom, I’m sure, are just all ears. Next time you’re feeling froggy you might want to heed Abraham Lincoln’s words: It is better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and resolve all doubt.

Just What We Need – Another Loud Australian

1987 world champion Wayne Gardner went on an unsolicited rant as well this week, referring to MotoGP as “a disaster” that features “the most boring races of all the GP classes.” Gardner criticized the riders for being prima donnas and Dorna for relying on the Rossi’s charisma to carry the series since it went to 800cc. Fortunately for the world, he believes the only thing that can save MotoGP is for Rossi to take his act to Ducati, which is appearing more each day to be a done deal.

Call It A Premonition…

But I have this strong sense that Dani Pedrosa is going to crash out of this weekend’s race. Several factors are coloring my thinking. One, although he says he’s still in contention for the title, he IS getting drubbed, knows it, and will be pressing. Two, he’s likely to be over-geeked in front of his family and friends – shades of Rossi at Mugello. Three, he’s overdue for a bruising, after suffering eight crash-related injuries over the past four-plus seasons, and not having crashed since Round 7 last year at Assen.

Better go knock on wood, Dani Pedrosa.

Meanwhile, Over at Moto2

Toni Elias, with another solid podium performance at Assen, stretched his lead over second place Shoya Tomizawa to 24 points as Tomizawa had to settle for fifth place. Andrea Iannone, with wins at Mugello and Assen, has scored 54 points in last three rounds to haul himself up to fourth in the standings. Thomas Luthi, nosed out of second place at Assen by Elias, settled for third to maintain his grip on third place for the year. Julian Simon, Jules Cluzel and Simone Corsi round out the top tranche in the junior circuit. Alas, my boy Alex de Angelis, angling to become the long-term replacement for Hiroshi Aoyama in the premier class, isn’t even on the Moto2 map. C’mon, Alex – DO something!

A Quick Look at Your Weekend Forecast

It will be warm in the greater Barcelona area this weekend, with temps mostly in the low 80’s. The best chance of rain is on Saturday, which may complicate qualifications. As for Sunday’s podium, I like Lorenzo, Stoner and Dovizioso.

The Circuit de Catalunya's 0.65 mile straight is one of the longest in the world.

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