Sunday Summary from Indianapolis: Is a Marquez Victory Still a Spoiler?

08/10/2014 @ 11:36 pm, by David Emmett13 COMMENTS

Sunday Summary from Indianapolis: Is a Marquez Victory Still a Spoiler? Sunday Indianapolis MotoGP Indianapolis GP Tony Goldsmith 11 635x422

After winning his tenth race in a row, and all of the races this season, we are starting to wonder whether announcing a Marquez win is actually a spoiler any more.

The deeper Marquez gets into record territory – and he is in very deep indeed, matching Giacomo Agostini for winning the first ten races of the season, and Mick Doohan for winning ten in a row, and Doohan, Valentino Rossi, Agostini and Casey Stoner for winning ten or more in one season – the harder it gets to write headlines.

It is hard to sum up the story of a race, when the story is all about Marquez and the record books.

So how did Marc Marquez make it ten in a row? It certainly didn’t look as easy as some of the other races he has won this year. A poor start left him behind Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso, and battling with Jorge Lorenzo. With track temperatures warmer than they had been all weekend, Marquez found the feeling with the front end not as good as during practice.

After a couple of scares, he decided to take his time in the early laps, and follow Rossi around. On Lap 11, an unmissable opportunity presented itself. Rossi led into the first corner, with Lorenzo diving up the inside of Marquez to take second.

Marquez decided to strike back, and seeing Rossi run just a fraction wide on the entry to Turn 2, stuffed his bike up the inside of the Italian. The gap Rossi had left was big enough for Lorenzo as well, who then tried to hold the inside through Turn 3. That left him on the outside of Marquez for the left hander at Turn 4, and Marquez was gone.

It took him a long while, though, and Marquez’s margin of victory was rather modest. In sixteen laps, he could only put a couple of seconds on second place finisher Jorge Lorenzo, and that was after Lorenzo complained it took him too long to get past Valentino Rossi.

In the last nine laps, Lorenzo was pretty much on the same pace as Marquez, but the 2013 world champion already had the win in the bag by then. That was causing Marquez some concern. “Here, the Yamahas were stronger that expected, really close to us,” Marquez said. “If they are closer here, I expect they will be really close in Brno.”

Brno and Silverstone could be the first tracks to cause a real threat to Marquez’s winning streak this year. “Now we go to Brno, and later Silverstone, which are two tracks where last year we struggle a little bit more, ” Marquez said. “Yamaha was so strong there.”

Marquez is right to be concerned. Last year at Brno, Marquez had trouble shaking off the Yamahas, and only just managed to hold off his teammate Dani Pedrosa. At Silverstone, Lorenzo managed to get ahead of Marquez on the very last lap, producing a thrilling win for the Yamaha man.

Could Lorenzo do it again? Indianapolis was a sign that the Spaniard was finally turning his season around. He rated the race as his best of the season, on a par with the race at Mugello, where he was just beaten to the line by Marquez.

Lorenzo spent his holiday working on his physical fitness, and training hard, swapping between time in the gym and time out on the mountain bike, something he has only just taken up.

Riding a mountain bike means he gets outside, and is much more enjoyable than the time he was spending on the stationary bike in the gym. That is providing more motivation, and more motivation means more fitness.

Most of all, Lorenzo regained some of his confidence. It was that which had taken a beating in the first half the season, with the low point coming at Assen. The race at Indy was a little easier for him, the early laps coming on a fully dry track, rather than one which is still damp.

That meant Lorenzo could push harder earlier, and build his confidence. He had a poor start, but that meant he had to fight his way forward, something which gave him confidence in the bike and in his ability.

He had taken longer than he wanted to get past Rossi, as Rossi was stronger on the brakes, he conceded. By then it was too late to catch Marquez, but his confidence was restored. “It is the first time in a long time I recover positions [in a race], I recover the confidence, and I recover the attitude,” Lorenzo said.

Though Valentino Rossi finished third, he was still a happy man, he said. He was happiest of all at having got a rocket start, “like Ron Haslam in the past,” Rossi said. How happy? “When I arrive in front in the first corner, I get an erection!” Rossi joked.

He knew that Marquez was faster, as he had been all weekend, but being in front was his best hope of beating the Repsol Honda man. He battled long and hard, but in the end, he had to surrender. Despite that, Rossi was happy enough. “This track for me is the worst, or one of the worst, so to get a podium is good,” he said afterwards.

Such a strong result at Indy bodes well for Brno. The Czech circuit has been one of Rossi’s best tracks in the past, the Italian saying that his results there have often played a crucial part in his championships. Things have not gone so well for Rossi at Brno in recent years, but 2014 could be different.

Where Marquez gains most over his rivals is in sheer consistency. While he keeps winning, Rossi, Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa all take turns on the podium, giving away handfuls of points to Marquez. Before Indianapolis, it was clear that if he kept winning, he could tie up the championship at Aragon.

By winning at Indy, and with Pedrosa coming fourth, on a weekend where he never felt comfortable, Marquez expanded his advantage to 89 points. If Marquez keeps winning, and Lorenzo comes second, it would only take one bad weekend for both Pedrosa and Rossi to hand the title to Marquez at Misano.

The most encouraging sight for Ducati fans was Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone in the early laps. Dovizioso led early, and Iannone challenged hard, until Iannone’s Pramac Ducati stopped on him. Ducati have suffered far too many technical problems in 2014, with Cal Crutchlow the main victim.

But Iannone has also lost his fair share of engines, with four being permanently shelved so far. The engine Iannone used at Indy was one of the new spec, with a bit more power and slightly more torque, and losing that one would be a major annoyance. We won’t find out if he has until Brno, however.

In the end, the performance of the Ducati is mitigated by the tires they have to run. The concessions to Ducati – more engines, more testing and a softer rear tire – are both a blessing and a curse, and the rear tire is often a problem. While they allow the Ducatis to push hard in the early laps, once they go off, they quickly lose ground, as happened to Dovizioso, who went from fighting with the front group, to finishing nearly 21 seconds off the winner.

Cal Crutchlow, who is far less comfortable pushing in the early laps as he cannot carry the same lean angle as Dovizioso, loses all of his time when the tire is new. Compare the times of Dovizioso and Crutchlow, and you see that while Crutchlow gives away over eleven seconds in the first ten laps, he concedes just four seconds in the last ten laps.

Three of those seconds were lost in two laps where Crutchlow was behind Scott Redding, with whom he battled all of the race. Redding could follow the pace of Crutchlow easily enough, but when he passed the Ducati rider, the top speed deficit of his Honda RCV1000R meant the pair lost a lot of time.

Crutchlow’s times on the old tires show the potential of the Desmosedici when the tires are shot. Dovizioso’s times on new tires show the potential of the bike in the hands of someone with a year of experience. The bike isn’t as bad as it has been in the past, but it remains a scary beast when on new tires. That takes plenty of getting used to.

What is wrong with the bike? Jeremy Burgess was at Indy, his first visit to a race since being sacked by Valentino Rossi. The fact that Burgess was sporting a #46 cap spoke of the fact that Burgess had taken it well, and the fact that everyone commented on how well, and how relaxed Burgess looked speaks of exactly how unhealthy and mentally draining working in the pressure cooker that is the Grand Prix paddock is.

Burgess spoke to a few journalists present, including Dennis Noyes. Burgess told Noyes that the problem with Ducati was one of philosophy: they built an engine with as much power as possible, then tried to control it with electronics. Yamaha and Honda had a different strategy: they tried to build an engine with easily manageable power characteristics, and then set about boosting the power without ruining the ridability.

Given the number of race wins and championships of the three factories since Ducati entered MotoGP in 2003, the best strategy is plain to see. If Gigi Dall’Igna’s new engine, coming at the beginning of 2015, favors ridability over top end, Ducati will have solved one big part of the puzzle.

For Crutchlow to be battling Redding all race, speaks both of Crutchlow’s struggle with the Ducati, and of Redding’s outstanding weekend at Indianapolis. They had made a step over the summer, Redding said, though the Gresini Honda rider remained frustrated by the lack of top speed.

Redding will have to wait until next year, when he will finally get on the RC213V, and get the horsepower he has been missing so far.

A number of crashes and mechanical problems meant that only fifteen riders finished, all of them in the points. Leon Camier was unlucky to run into problems with the electronics – something which has happened a couple of times this season, the Honda production racers not taking kindly to the spec Magneti Marelli ECU – but has already made his mark.

Despite his DNF, there were a lot of teams discussing his prospect for 2015 after Indy. Camier has at least one more race to make an impression, subbing for Nicky Hayden while the American recovers from his injuries.

The other American bade an emotional farewell to his fans, Colin Edwards riding his final race in the USA at Indy. The Texan will be sorely missed when he is gone, though frankly, more for the color he brings to the sport, rather than his results in recent years.

After the race, the Forward Racing team put out one of the most confusing press releases I have ever read. The press release announced Edwards retirement with immediate effect, but Edwards claimed he will be riding at Silverstone, and possibly at other races. Silverstone looks to be a dead cert, but beyond that, we simply do not know.

If the MotoGP race consolidated Marquez’s stranglehold on the MotoGP championship, the Moto2 and Moto3 races had very different effects. Mika Kallio won a restarted Moto2 race by a comfortable margin, but his margin would have been much, much larger if the first race hadn’t been red-flagged after an incident with Mattia Pasini, who crashed and briefly lost consciousness, though he was quickly found to be healthy.

With championship leader Tito Rabat only managing to finish fourth, Kallio cut his deficit to Rabat to just seven points. Kallio had said that the season really starts at Indy. With his third victory of the season, Kallio is staking his claim. It is to the credit of the Marc VDS Racing team that they see no need to intervene in the championship race. Though frankly, Rabat and Kallio have such an advantage over the riders behind them that there is no need to get involved.

The Moto3 race was as epic as you might expect, with ten men fighting for the win. As expected, the first rider into the final corner was destined to lose, with Efren Vazquez blowing by Romano Fenati to take his first victory in the class.

Jack Miller crossed the line in third, having lost touch in the back straight as he scrapped over the right to chase Fenati and Vazquez. Though Miller was frustrated not to win, he still extended his lead in the championship by finishing ahead of Alex Marquez.

Miller is leading the Moto3 championship by the same tactic that Marc Marquez is in MotoGP: Miller always beats whoever is closest in the title race, while his rivals spend too much time scrapping among themselves.

Ride of the day has to go to Alexis Masbou in Moto3, the Frenchman who finished fourth. Masbou got caught up in first lap tangle, and crossed the line in 31st. He blasted his way through the field during the race, catching the leaders and finishing just behind Miller. An extraordinary ride for the Ongetta rider.

Photo: © 2014 Tony Goldsmith / TGF Photos – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. Jw says:

    Makes me wonder when MM and team wins number 11, how will they demonstrate this with only 10 fingers?

  2. KSW says:

    Dave,

    I find all the comparisons of MM to Hailwood, Agostini et al interesting but rather a poor one. Poor because I don’t see monuments of MM outside the MGP circuits. Hailwood, Agostini et al have sections of the TT course named in there honor and other racing achievements to stand on outside one type of racing, circuits. I only think that MM gets the comparisons, fairly, when he does more then win on circuit tracks. He would have to compete and win at something like his favorite non MGP riding, the big ovals. Engage in some Endurance racing and show a dominance there. Those greats he’s being compared to did it on many bikes, surfaces, styles across disciplines. At this point in his still young career the comparisons need to be brought down a bit me thinks.

  3. Bruce Monighan says:

    KSW, I find your comments odd. The past greats; Hailwood, Agostini, Doohan took years to have their names attached to corners and to have monuments built. Marquez is in the moment of greatness, in record setting. History judges and that is in the future, but the records so far by Marquez will have him with corners and monuments with his name. It will just take a while.

    In the meantime consider yourself lucky that you are watching one of the greatest in history write history. I would have loved to have the same privilege to have watched Hailwood and Agostini. I watched Doohan’s career, Stoner’s career and now Marquez and feel lucky to be a passenger in this bit if history.

  4. TheSeaward says:

    Bruce is right. It’s the kids second year in the premier class. I’m not even sure if they could whip up a bronze statue in the amount of time he’s been dominating.

  5. Westward says:

    @ KSW

    As mentioned prior, Marquez would have to establish himself over time or give his life during the season like Simoncelli. If Marquez wins all the races this season, one of the Spanish circuits will change its name… Given the state of the competition and technology, Marquez may just pull that off…

    As for the series itself, I think they should let teams use what ever tyre they think will achieve the best results. Let there be two or three tyre manufacturers compete for use.

  6. smiler says:

    I find comparisons of Marquez to Doohan, mailwood, Rossi or Ago odd.
    When Doohan won ten with 3 other factory Honda’s. In total 8 of the top riders were on Honda’s and Honda took the top 5 places in the championship.
    Honda are always the team to beat. They joined in 1973 and in 40 years have won 20 titles. This year will see them surpass the combined total of Yamahaha and Suzuki.

    Marquez has a team mate who consistently well behind him. Clearly because he is better yet Honda sign the rider (great as Pedro is) who has never beaten any of his team mates to the title since 2006.

    Freddie Spencer took his first major class podium in his 3rd ever world championship event. It was Marc’s 78th. Spencer then took his first major class win after 8 events, for Marquez it was 79. Finally, Freddie won his first major class title after just 24 races while it took Marquez 96. Also on a 2 stroke.

    At the previous GP, Marquez fell off, he did not injury or concuss himself and was declared a hero for getting back on. Bautista had a similar off at Indy and got back on to ride….

    Pol Esparago saves the most monumental wobble on the rumble strips at Indy, gets mild praise. Marquez overtakes Dovi and Rossi with 2/3 of the track available on the quickest bike (by far) and is again declared that he is really fighting for the wins. He was outpaced by a 35 year old rider for part of the race (again) and made (again) an unforced error.

    In every other garage on the grid this weekend, team mates were swapping places, except Marquez. This will now continue for another 2 years.

    I like my racing heroes to be just that. So no doubt Dorna will rename all sorts of things after Marquez in Spain because Repsol Marketing department will tell them to.

    If Simoncelli was alive, no one would be talking about Marquez. Nice and quick as he is.

    His PR team though are really trying to make him acceptable, hence the flag helmet this weekend. His idea? Of course not.

    It is the least competitive MotoGP has been ever, hence the falling attendance, subscriptions and the desperate talking up being done by comentators.

    Other former champions are far from convinced though, ref Rainey, Doohan and Schwantz’ previous comments.

    Moto2, great to see Kallio psyching out his team mate and getting back in the game. Great race and close title race.

  7. ksw says:

    Broooce/Westward,

    Yes, MM is young and onto a great career. Eye of the Tiger you might say he has. But to be on the level of the likes of Hailwood/Agostini he has to be a better all around rider. I give MM a pass at the IOMTT but if he can’t run with the big boys at say, The Ulster or NW200 then step aside. Hailwood and Agostini both had to win on the roads. MM will also need to do what his current competitor “The Doctor” has done, win on things other than a Honda and show it’s not a flock. Uh, Vettel comes to mind this year. Was it his great driving skill or the cars advances over the others they’re asking about Vettel. Sell, magazine, heap praise but remember he’s no Hailwood or Agostini yet. Ego’s in search of $$ rename tracks so quickly.

  8. Jw says:

    - Smiler:

    I love Simoncelli and was a big fan, I cried when he died. But I must own the truth and that is MM is in a league right now at this time, that no one, dead or alive can match. For the sake of the sport I look forward to congratulating the warrior that can conquer him some day.

    As far as the 2/3 track where mm passed Dovi and Rossi, he did not need the fastest bike, that pass was flat out brilliant mad skill, it had nothing to do with power in that corner at all. I bet he was not even at 3/4 throttle when he did this.

  9. b_bobby43 says:

    I was present at the race and a few things were very obvious.

    1: Ducati is much improved, but not a threat. Dovi was fast initially, but was never in contention.

    2: Pedrosa has lost a step. Not a lot mind you, but he was never a threat the entire weekend. He wasn’t particularly impressive during any practice session or qualifying.

    3: Rossi is having a great time and a lot of fun racing, but this isn’t the old rossi. He was consistent and very smooth, but the Yamaha didn’t have the horsepower on the long straight to compete with the Honda.

    4: Pedrosa is the only REAL threat. He is building confidence in himself and the new M1. Given a better start and/or a quicker pass on Rossi, He would have been a real threat. He is getting very close.

    5: There are only 3 riders capable of winning a race, Maybe 4. The rest of the field are average at best.
    Wasn’t impressed with any of the rest of the field.

    6: The pass by Marquez was a thing of legend. Kid can flat out ride that honda…

    Just a few observations from the track.

  10. Westward says:

    Winning 10 in a row is no easy feat. Marquez’s accomplishments at his age are unique. Back to back titles in his first two season in the premiere class is something that will be talked about for years to come. If he can adjust to the Michelin quickly and capture a third consecutive title it will only serve to bolster his legend. I’d like to see him win four or five titles with HRC and then try another Manufacturer, Yamaha, or even an improved Ducati by then.

    The Honda suits Marquez well, I do not think he would fair the same on the Yamaha M1. However, I do think Rossi on the Honda RC213V would be a greater threat to Marquez than Pedrosa ever was or is. Remember, Rossi won two titles during the 800 series on an underpowered Yamaha compared to the Honda.

  11. AHA says:

    I don’t do Twitter as a rule so I’d just like to say here: Jerry Burgess = pure class.

    Not sure if there were any doubts but turning up in that cap should prove it once and for all.

    I’m sure there were other considerations also but the timing was more than serendipitous. Waiting until VR46’s season had definitely turned the corner meant he wasn’t a ghost at the feast.

  12. Trail Brake says:

    Uhh, why do we hafta compare MM with those others? Also, is it not OK to win? Or just not OK to win too much?

    Those legends raced in their own time when technology was different. The foes they faced are not the foes MM faces. I mean different tracks, tires, training techniques, the monopoly of DORNA, engines, electronics, the list goes on and on.

    Trying to quantify them or MM against each other is waste of time. Sorry…..And don’t even get me started on comparing circuit racing to real road racing, dirt track ovals, or off road stuff.

    Those with the gold make the rules. Until the manufacturers and the Spanish decide to change racing as we now know it, its a moot point demeaning MM because he’s not racing different genres.

    Its very impressive to watch racing of any type, especially very good riders on million dollar bikes.

    Thanks to A & R and MotoMatters for the excellent article….

  13. Kaw4Life says:

    b_bobby43

    Don’t you mean Lorenzo?