Factory Yamaha titan Jorge Lorenzo gave a clinic in grand prix racing today in front of a huge crowd of soccer hooligans, out-racing Repsol Honda rookie Marc Marquez to the flag in an instant classic. That Marquez was in the chase at all today constitutes a minor miracle after he dislocated his left shoulder in the morning warm-up practice. Repsol Honda #2 Dani Pedrosa completed the all-Alien podium in a result that was more style than substance.
Not that this wasn’t about as exciting a race as you ever get in MotoGP. Lorenzo and the wounded rookie got away from the field at the start, while Pedrosa, who used to leave the starting line as if having been launched by an ICBM, got caught up in traffic. Dani would join the leaders at the front several laps later, but would never advance farther than third place. Even so, as a leather-clad spectator, he had the best view in the house of the battle between the healthy Lorenzo and the injured Marquez, racing, as it were, with one hand tied behind his back.
Prior to the start, Lorenzo, Pedrosa and even aging Yamaha legend Valentino Rossi resembled sharks smelling blood in the water. Silverstone, it suddenly seemed, was where they could finally get a little payback for the can of whup-ass Marquez had opened on them two months ago. Today, it was the veteran Aliens who were healthy, while the upstart had a debilitating injury. Surely today Pedrosa and Lorenzo could gain back some serious ground in the 2013 championship.
Um, no. Marquez, unable to lift his left arm at all after the race, began the day 26 points in front of Pedrosa and heads to Misano leading by 30. Lorenzo shaved five points off the rookie’s lead and now trails by 39 after a largely symbolic victory at a track seemingly designed for the Yamaha M1. The Mallorcan, usually the picture of calm class, celebrated his win in a manner befitting an NFL wide receiver dancing in the endzone after snaring a touchdown pass with his team down 30. Such is the desperation in the factory Yamaha garage two-thirds of the way through the disastrous 2013 campaign.
That it took several amazing last-lap moves by the defending world champion to deprive the one-armed rookie from his fifth consecutive premier class win is but another sign of the apocalypse facing MotoGP. As has been said elsewhere, MotoGP appears to be entering the two-wheeled equivalent of “The Schumacher Years” that damaged Formula One so badly.
I, for one, used to enjoy seeing Tiger Woods take on the golfing world back in the day, winning week in and week out. Otherwise, I get nothing from watching an individual dominate his sport the way Marquez appears set to do for the next decade. And just the thought that Marquez could suffer a career-damaging injury is enough of a karma-killer to make one lose his job, his wife, his dog and his ride, destined to spend eternity roasting in the flames of you-know-where.
Elsewhere on the Grid
Once again this week, former Alien Valentino Rossi was reduced to battling LCR Honda pilot Stefan Bradl and GO&FUN Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista for a hollow fourth place finish, and once again Rossi prevailed. Bautista is probably hearing footsteps about now, as it has been announced that Scott Redding would be joining his team next season on a “production” Honda, in preparation for the Spaniard’s virtually inevitable ejaculation from the #1 seat on the Gresini team in 2015.
Announcer Nick Harris alluded to the “success-starved British fans” in attendance who, ignoring Roger Bannister’s breaking of the four minute mile barrier back in 1952, have had little, other than “football,” to cheer about since the RAF kicked Hitler’s Luftwaffe out of the skies in the Battle of Britain. (Okay, Barry Sheene won a coupla motorcycle world championships back in the 70’s, before most of today’s more rabid fans were born.)
Redding did come through for them in Moto2, winning a thriller over Taka Nakagami and Thomas Luthi in the warm-up to the main event. But the two Brits on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, Cal Crutchlow and local fave Bradley Smith, endured a rough weekend. Crutchlow went through about €400,000 worth of bikes crashing twice on Saturday and again today. (The marshals were busy trying to scrape the remains of his bike out of the gravel in the morning when Marquez’s riderless RC213V came flying at them, narrowly avoiding yet more mayhem.) Smith never got it going all weekend, qualifying 10th and finishing 9th after losing a spot when Ducati slogger Andrea Dovizioso, who never crashes, crashed out in front of him late in the day.
|1||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||233|
|2||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||203|
|3||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha Factory||194|
|4||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha Factory||156|
|5||Cal Crutchlow||Monster Tech3 Yamaha||136|
|6||Stefan Bradl||LCR Honda||113|
|7||Alvaro Bautista||Gresini Honda||103|
|8||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati Factory||96|
|9||Nicky Hayden||Ducati Factory||88|
|10||Aleix Espargaro||Power Electronics Aspar||68|
In Case You Were Wondering
Anyone still reading this article knows that Marc Marquez, at 20 years of age, is re-writing the MotoGP record books. I thought it would be interesting to see what the other three Aliens were doing at the same age.
Lorenzo turned 20 during the 2007 season, his third season in the 250cc class, during which he won his second 250cc championship for Aprilia. He would graduate to the premier class the next year and finish 4th, second in 2009, and won his first premier class championship in 2010 at age 23.
Pedrosa was 20 during the 2006 season, his first in MotoGP after winning the 125 title in 2003 and the 250cc titles in 2004-2005, also for Aprilia. He finished 5th during his rookie year on the big bikes and has been many times a bridesmaid, never a bride. His entire premier class career has been spent riding Hondas.
Valentino Rossi was just out of his teens during the 1999 season, during which he won the 250cc title for Aprilia – this is starting to sound familiar – before graduating to the premier class in 2000, where he captured second place in his rookie season.
He won the next five titles to cement his legend, and took two more in 2008 and 2009, before age and Ducati Corse caught up with him.
Some Clarity Emerging for 2014
In addition to the announcement concerning Scott Redding joining the Gresini team, the Aspar team announced this week that they would contest the 2014 season on significantly upgraded Aprilia packages. Though there has been no announcement concerning riders, speculation in the paddock has current Aspar rider Aleix Espargaro defecting to the NGM Forward Racing team next season, where he will compete on a gently used and lovingly re-conditioned Yamaha M1 with the “slow” software, 24 liters of fuel, and plenty of engines to last the season. Apparently, he will join Colin Edwards, whose services are, for whatever reason, being retained for yet another year. All of this seems only fair, since Aleix’s brother Pol, getting promoted from Moto2, will be riding a satellite Yamaha on the Monster Tech 3 team alongside Smith.
For the benefit of the last few of you still with us, Hectic Hector Barbera continues working his way down the food chain, and is alleged to be heading to World Superbikes next season. As Misano approaches in two weeks, the silly season drags on. With Marc Marquez expected to be at full strength, the onslaught at the front looks likely to resume on the Adriatic Riviera. We’ll be there, praying that The Schumacher Years aren’t descending upon MotoGP.