The 2015 MotoGP championship season that was, back in April, a marathon is now a sprint. Repsol Honda #2 Dani Pedrosa helped his employer avoid potential disgrace at the hands of Yamaha, his win today (actually brilliant, I think, in a world of routine overstatement) under difficult conditions and well under the radar. In the process, he threw some more dirt on what has become Yamaha factory stud Jorge Lorenzo’s grave – bad things happen to Lorenzo on wet tracks.
The MotoGP website is somewhat predictably promoting this week’s tilt between Movistar Yamaha tough guys Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi as “The Clash of the Titans.” Which, to an on-the-street local racing fan here, would naturally bring to mind Godzilla. If, in fact, the Motul Grand Prix of Japan gives us a replay of Mothra vs. Godzilla, I assume the indomitable lizard triumphs, suggesting that Rossi will play the role of Mothra. It is easy to envision Lorenzo on the top step this weekend, surrounded by Honda pilots, Rossi’s margin at the top of the 2015 heap vanishing in the haze.
Factory Yamaha pilot Jorge Lorenzo, in a race he absolutely needed to win, did so convincingly, leading wire to wire on the dusty plains of Aragon. Thanks to Repsol Honda #2 Dani Pedrosa, he reduced his deficit to teammate Valentino Rossi from 23 points to 14, as Pedrosa held off repeated assaults from Rossi over the last five laps. Fans around the world expected Rossi, who hasn’t won a race on Spanish soil since 2009, to take Pedrosa’s lunch money late in the day. But the diminutive Spaniard willfully held on, denying Rossi four points he badly wanted, and tying his best result of a winless year.
After the debacle at Misano, factory Yamaha stud Jorge Lorenzo observed that capturing the 2015 MotoGP title requires only that he win the remaining five races. His Plan A, which to many seems unlikely, could give way this weekend to Plan B, which would have teammate Valentino Rossi crashing out of a race or two. But Rossi, on average, crashes maybe once a season, most recently at Aragon a year ago. Lorenzo, who loves racing on the dusty Spanish plain, needs to make some hay on Sunday; beating his teammate has never been so important.
As Round 13 of the 2015 MotoGP championship got underway today, the racing gods were thoroughly bored, watching Jorge Lorenzo put another old fashioned Misano beatdown on rival teammate Valentino Rossi and just plain rival Marc Marquez. So they decided to have a little fun, turning on the rain around Lap 6 and turning it off again during Lap 16, forcing a double flag-to-flag affair for the first time in recent memory. When the laughs died down, Marquez had a win, two Brits finished on the podium, Rossi extended his championship lead, and Lorenzo was in the medical center getting x-rays.
The Welsh Grand Prix was to have taken place this weekend at the £315m Circuit of Wales, going by the name of Ebbw Vale, where it will, someday, reside in Blænau Gwent, both of which seem to need some extra letters. Unfortunately, the organizers were unable to deliver the stadium on time for this year’s calendar. The 2015 British Grand Prix will continue at Silverstone for the next two years, after a short detour through Donington Park.
The 2015 bwin Grand Prix České republiky gave the amped-up crowd of 138,000 a somewhat disappointing high-speed parade, with six of the top 8 starters crossing the line in the same position they started. One of these was polesitter Jorge Lorenzo, who drove his Yamaha YZR-M1 to the fastest lap ever recorded on two wheels in qualifying on Saturday. Leading unassailed from wire to wire, Lorenzo pulled into a tie with teammate Valentino Rossi for the 2015 world championship and, holding the tiebreaker, punched Rossi out of the lead for the first time this year.
Factory Yamaha kingpins Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, a mere nine points between them, would probably enjoy fighting things out for the rest of the season in a series of match races, going one-on-one on empty tracks for bragging rights in 2015. While attendance on Sundays probably would not decline by all that much, the rest of the grid, most notably Repsol Honda threats Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, would prefer to be involved. By “involved” I mean trading paint in tight spaces, hoping to disrupt things sufficiently for Marquez, at least, to have a shot at MotoGP title #3.
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.
MotoGP starts the back nine of the 2015 season this week in Indianapolis with all four Aliens looking fast and frisky. At the top of the heap, a mere 13 points separate factory Yamaha grandees Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Factory Ducati interloper Andrea Iannone, in third, sits squarely in the crosshairs of defending world champion Marc Marquez, who finally has his Repsol Honda figured out. Hard luck Dani Pedrosa on the #2 Repsol bike, health fully restored, loves Indianapolis. Expect an all-Alien battle for the podium in the Hoosier heartland heat on Sunday.
The Repsol Honda duo of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were so fast this weekend they seemed to exit the space-time continuum, re-entering in 2014 amidst a rewind of last year’s German Grand Prix. Marquez, loving himself the 2014 chassis he hauled out after Barcelona, comfortably led every practice session. As in 2014, he and Pedrosa qualified 1-2 and finished 1-2, relegating the factory Yamaha team of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo to also-ran status. Rossi, however, extended his championship lead over Lorenzo to 13 points, and left for summer vacation in a fist-pumping celebration of a near-perfect first half season.
Round nine of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship returns to The Sachsenring, arguably the most Honda-friendly circuit on the tour. Hondas have taken the checkered flag the last five times out, three wins from Dani Pedrosa followed by two from Marc Marquez. Although the fortunes of the
Repsol Honda team have suffered a downturn in 2015, both riders could easily be in contention for a spot on Sunday’s podium. It’s that kind of track.
As the 2015 MotoGP season approaches the halfway mark, the factory Yamaha team of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, the Bruise Brothers in Blue, have had things pretty much their own way. Between them, they’ve won six of the seven races to date. Double defending world champion Marc Marquez and his Honda RC213V have appeared, in the words of Led Zeppelin, dazed and confused. The annual visit to the Cathedral, the Motul TT Assen, could interrupt several recent trends.
As qualifying for the 2015 Grand Prix Monster Energy de Catalunya closed on Saturday, one got the sense that The Usual Suspects might not make it to Sunday’s podium. The ascendant Suzuki Ecstar team had crashed the party, seizing the first two spots in Row 1 (for the first time since 1993), while Aliens occupied spots #3, 4, 6 and 7. The upstart Ducati duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone were mired in 5th and 12th places, respectively. On Sunday, eight riders failed to finish, but when the smoke cleared, the Alien Class of 2012 – Yamaha mandarins Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, and Repsol Honda #2 Dani Pedrosa – climbed the steps, the cheers of 97,000 Spanish fans ringing in their ears.
For the third round in succession, Movistar Yamaha stud Jorge Lorenzo jumped out to an early lead, switched on the autopilot on his YZR-M1, cranked up Kings of Leon on his MP3 player, and never broke a sweat in winning the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM. What was suspected after Le Mans has now been confirmed at Mugello – Jorge Lorenzo is the man to beat for the 2015 MotoGP championship. The only way things could get any worse for Honda’s double defending world champion Marc Marquez would be if Lorenzo were to steal his girlfriend.