Aragon really is a beautiful place. The stacked stone wall looks like something straight out of the Inquisition. Running Round 14 against this backdrop reminds us weíre no longer in Kansas. The electronic billboard at the other end provides a stunning contrast, from medieval to ultra-modern.
Aragon, as mentioned more than once in this space, is a Yamaha track. Yamaha loves Aragon: four of the top six qualifiers, two each in rows one and two. First Aragon pole for Lorenzo, on a sweet late QP steal from Pedrosa. Four of the top five bikes in warm-up. Dani and Stefan vs. the entire Yamaha nation, and with Pedrosa pressing after the crushing debacle in Misano.
If MotoGP were, indeed, a team sport, as terms such as ďFactory Yamaha TeamĒ imply, Spies would have gone out and tried to block Pedrosa, roller derby-style. Spies, in fact, would have liked nothing better than to beat Lorenzo. Other than to beat the two satellite Yamaha ballers who once again smoked him, Dovizioso and Crutchlow.
If the Tech 3 team does as well next year with Crutchlow and the incoming Bradley Smith, Iíll name some kind of award for them, as the teamís 2012 performance with Crutchlow and Dovizioso has been so strong. Iím pretty sure the 2013 Pramac team, Ducatiís JV, wonít fare quite as well as Herve Poncharalís satellite team.
In a Nutshell
The lines were drawn early today. Lorenzo and Pedrosa went off for their usual heart-to-heart. Pedrosa emerged with his fourth win in the last seven rounds. Likely too little too late, but impressive nonetheless.
Spies, Dovizoso and Crutchlow became the second group, with Spies falling from third to fifth along the way. Nicky Hayden ended up on the wrong side of the tire wall in his Lap 4 crash. Stefan Bradl was in the mix until his crash on Lap 5, only his second of the season.
Johnny Rea, subbing for Stoner, drove his Repsol Honda to a respectable seventh place finish, right behind Gresiniís Alvaro Bautista. Rossi, Karel Abraham and Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top ten, with Espargaroís teammate Randy de Puniet a second back.
At this stage of the competition, one begins to notice how some of the riders have contractual conflicts of interest as regards their performance this season relative to next season. Of the top ten qualifiers today, five had such a conflict:
Based upon the results of todayís race, I would suggest that Dovizioso and Rea gave it their full attention. Rossi may have been trying too hard, but I didnít get that from watching Spies or Barbera.
A Breakdown in Nationalism
Interesting how the nationalistic biases of MotoGP are giving way to competence on the various teams. The French Tech 3 team will field two Brits, Crutchlow and Bradley Smith. Repsol has them drooling in Spain with Pedrosa and Marquez. Ducati ends up with Dovizioso, who has some homeboy potential, and Hayden, whose #1 job is to look and be American.
Yamaha has arguably the best multi-national team in the game with Lorenzo the top dog and Rossi fighting his way back to relevance. Franceís LCR Honda is lucky to have German rookie Bradl, while Bautista is still a question mark at Gresini. Pramacís combination of Ianonne and Spies, with increased factory support, will hopefully be more competitive than its predecessors.
But There Are Still Four Rounds in Spain
The Spanish national anthem is an instrumental, with the Marcha Real having no official lyrics.
You hear it a lot at MotoGP events. (All three classes today.) I guess people are just supposed to stand around humming and thinking patriotic thoughts about their troubled country, whose grip on its currency is crumbling and where unemployment is in the mid-20ís. Itís one thing not to know the words of oneís national anthem. Itís another to have a national anthem that doesnít have any words. Just sayiní.
Next Up: The Pacific Swing
Two weeks from now the table is set at Motegi, the first of the three-races-in-three-weeks that will culminate in the crowning of the 2012 champion. Not that it has too much to do with the title run, but Casey Stoner apparently wants to return in time for Motegi and Sepang, to be at full strength for Philip Island in his swan song in his native Australia.
At the top of the standings, Lorenzo actually strengthened his mathematical position over Pedrosa with his second place finish today. Dovizioso gave himself a solid shot to overtake Stoner for third place for the season unless the Australian comes out of the chute at high speed, and soon. Crutchlow and Rossi might have a tussle for fifth place if Rossi can have more Misanos and fewer Aragons.
For Dani Pedrosa, looking once again this year more like a bridesmaid than a bride, the best he can do is keep winning races and hope for luck to intervene on his behalf. Motegi is a track at which he should do well. Heíll have to approach the rest of the 2012 season the way most people approach retirement: work like a dog and hope for the best.
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