Sunday Summary at Qatar: Of Deserving Winners, Old Champions, & The Correct Way to Celebrate Victory

03/23/2014 @ 11:20 pm, by David Emmett22 COMMENTS

Sunday Summary at Qatar: Of Deserving Winners, Old Champions, & The Correct Way to Celebrate Victory 2014 MotoGP Qatar GP Sunday Scott Jones 03 635x423

There’s an old racing adage: when the flag drops, the talking stops, though the word ‘talking’ is rarely used. It’s a cliche, but like all cliches, it is a cliche because it reflects such a basic truth.

Without bikes circulating on track in anger, fans and press have nothing to do but engage in idle speculation, and pick over the minutiae of rules, rumors and races long past. As soon as the racing starts again, all is forgotten, and we all lose ourselves in the now. It is the zen which all racing fans aspire to.

So after spending months going round in circles over the 2014 regulations, speculating about who they favor, and expressing outrage at either the perceived injustice of the rules, or the supposed incompetence of those involved in drawing them up at the last minute, the talk stopped at Qatar on Sunday night.

The fans filled their bellies on three outstanding races, all of which went down to the wire. With something once again at stake, all talk of rules was forgotten.

And to be honest, the 2014 rules had none of the negative effects which so many people had feared. The best riders on the day still ended up on the podium, while the gap between the winner and the rest of the pack was much reduced. The gap from the winner to the first Ducati was cut from 22 seconds in 2013 to 12 seconds this year.

The gap from the winner to Aleix Espargaro – first CRT in 2013, first Open class rider in 2014 – was cut from 49 seconds to just 11 seconds. And even ignoring Espargaro’s Yamaha M1, the gap to the first Honda production racer – an outstanding performance by Scott Redding on the Gresini RCV1000R – was slashed to 32 seconds.

Even the cut in fuel did not affect the races as badly as many feared. It appeared that there had been some dissembling going on in both the Yamaha and Honda garages. HRC had been brushing off any suggestions that fuel may be an issue for them, while at Yamaha, there were a number of worried faces.

There was a clue that things were not as serious as feared when Jorge Lorenzo stopped worrying about fuel and focused his ire on the new Bridgestone rubber, but Valentino Rossi kept banging the fuel drum.

On race day, there was no sign of fuel issues for the Italian, Rossi telling the press conference that his engineers had done a great job to fix the fuel issues, and had given him a properly fast bike. “I think Yamaha worked well on the fuel consumption,” he said.

It was quite the revival for Rossi. The gamble to drop Jeremy Burgess in favor of Silvano Galbusera as crew chief had paid off. “Last year I made a very dangerous bet,” he said.

Galbusera had no experience in MotoGP, but a positive experience working with him testing a World Superbike machine coming back from a broken leg in 2010 had encouraged Rossi to try. The way of working had now changed, with electronics and data engineer Matteo Flamigni playing a greater role.

The biggest gain for Rossi was clearly in braking. Rossi was able to attack on the brakes at will once again, fighting his way forward from 10th on the grid quickly – and aided by a couple of crashes in front of him – and engaging in hand-to-hand combat with Marc Marquez.

Braking was an area where Rossi had suffered all last year, and the joy and determination with which he launched himself into corners spoke volumes about the improvements which have been made.

The battle with Marquez turned the race into an instant classic. From the moment when Rossi arrived on the back wheel of Marquez a third of the way through the race, the pair stalked and sniped, swapping places and sometimes even trading paint.

The early skirmishes turned into all out war in the last few laps, the lead swapping four times on the penultimate lap. They were tough moves, no quarter given nor asked by either rider, Marquez squeezing his bike through an impossibly narrow gap at one point. In the end, the reigning world champion came out on top, Rossi losing ground after running the merest fraction wide.

Though Marquez’s victory was far from a surprise, the fact that he did manage to win at Qatar is still quite a feat. The Spaniard came to the first race of the year after six weeks laid up with a spiral fracture in his fibula, still in pain and having started walking just a week ago.

He worked his way through practice and qualifying methodically, serving notice by taking pole on Saturday – his 10th in 19 starts, a strike rate of over 50% for the youngster – then gambled on using the harder of the two rear tire options in the race. It paid off, and his willingness to fight and his appetite for risk landed him the win and the lead in the championship.

What was even more impressive by Marquez is that he showed that he has learned patience. For the first half of the race, Marquez sat calmly behind Stefan Bradl, happy to let the LCR Honda rider make the pace while he rested the right arm he was using to compensate for the lack of strength in his leg.

In the end, he didn’t need to choose a moment to attack, as Stefan Bradl crashed out of the lead at Turn 6, one of very many fallers. But the fact that Marquez has already learned to control his more impetuous nature bodes well for the champion. It was an outstanding ride by the Repsol Honda man, and a portent of what is to come.

Unlike last year, Marquez managed to hold off Valentino Rossi. The battle between the two had provided the entertainment in the 2013 race, and did the same again, and more, this year. It also showed the progress made by both riders, Marquez coming out on top to win the race, and Rossi battling no longer with a rookie, but with the reigning world champion.

Many people had written Valentino Rossi off, believing him to have lost his edge in the two years he spent at Ducati. I was one of the people who believed that though Rossi was still one of the best racers in the world, he was no longer a match for the three Spaniards who dominated last year. It looks like I was wrong: there is life in the old dog yet, once a few fundamental problems have been overcome.

That doesn’t mean that a tenth world title is on the cards, but at least Rossi should be able to mix it with Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, and Dani Pedrosa at more races during the season.

Behind Rossi, Dani Pedrosa occupied the final spot on the podium, a decent achievement given his relatively poor results at Qatar. The low-grip surface is something which Pedrosa has always had trouble dealing with, third being the best finish Pedrosa has achieved here.

The Repsol Honda rider was happy to have bagged a podium, but he had luck on his side. The Spaniard benefited from crashes in front of him, taking third after Alvaro Bautista went down with a couple of laps to go.

Crashes were a commonplace, and for some riders, particularly expensive. The reason for the crashes was simple: conditions at race time were different than during practice and qualifying. The track was considerably cooler, robbing the track even further of grip.

Crashes were down not so much to problems with the Bridgestones, as in the minds of those trying to brake where they couldn’t. Stefan Bradl, Alvaro Bautista, Bradley Smith and Jorge Lorenzo all lost the front in braking, overestimating the grip available.

Jorge Lorenzo admitted the mistake had been his. After a dismal start to the weekend, agonizing over a lack of rear grip, Lorenzo and his Yamaha crew had found some solutions on Saturday, entering the race with determination and some optimism. Lorenzo got his usual lightning start and took off from the front.

His optimism ran out at Turn 15, the last left-hander before the final corner. He had got extra drive out of the previous corner, and arrived at 15 with a little more speed than expected.

“I made a mistake,” Lorenzo said. Different tires from last year and cooler temperatures had made conditions trickier than expected. “I didn’t take these circumstances into account.” Lorenzo does not often make mistakes, but this was a very expensive one indeed. 25 points down in the championship, and the initiative passed to Marc Marquez.

The man expected to shake up the order came home in fourth, Aleix Espargaro getting a dismal start and never finding a way past the Ducatis. Aleix paid a heavy price for his two crashes during qualifying, both bikes being destroyed, and his team needing to borrow parts from Colin Edwards’ second bike to get to the grid on time.

He was stuck behind the Ducatis for a large part of the race, losing out on top speed to the Desmosedicis along the straight. He managed in the end, and thanks to the carnage ahead of him, ended up in fourth.

The elder Espargaro learned a salutary lesson at Qatar: that when you step into the spotlights in MotoGP, they can easily blind you. With the experience from leading the first sessions of practice at Qatar, Aleix can start to build. His day will come, sooner, rather than later.

For the Ducatis, Andrea Dovizioso was delighted to have halved his deficit from 2013. But that still leaves a gap to the leaders of over 12 seconds, and the most significant problem remains.

The understeer which plagues the Ducati makes it impossible to ride the bike the way the others can. That will be Gigi Dall’Igna’s next challenge, but it is an issue which he will not be able to address until he has more data.

Dovizioso’s teammate Cal Crutchlow’s performance was affected by matters out of his own hands. The Englishman parked his bike at the side of the track as soon as he crossed the finish line, after a bizarre electronics problem had played havoc with his settings.

A malfunctioning transponder meant that the wrong data was being fed to the ECU, with the result that the bike was getting lost on the track. Power delivery was completely out of sync with the track, too little on the straight, too much in the corners, the bike utterly lost.

Signs of Crutchlow’s problems could be seen on the timing screens, his name shooting up and down the order as his transponder vacillated between functioning and not. It was a tough debut for the Englishman, but the problems were out of his hands.

The issue has happened to Ducati before. At Estoril in 2012, Nicky Hayden’s Desmosedici suffered a similar glitch, though in his case, the bike thought it was half a lap further on than it actually was.

Given Estoril’s very specific layout – a long, fast front straight, with a tight back section with lots of slow curves – having the bike provide the wrong power delivery can be a terrifying experience.

Though GPS is banned, locational awareness is programmed based on the timing loops around the track, as well as measured distance traveled. These sorts of malfunctions are some of the reasons put forward by Dorna technical staff, when arguing for the restriction and simplification of electronics.

If there is only one power setting for the entire track, then riders can at least be sure of knowing how the bike will react when the throttles are opened.

For a change, the MotoGP race was better than the Moto2 race, though the Moto2 race still turned into a bit of a thriller. Tito Rabat took a totally deserved victory, seeing off an unfortunate Taka Nakagami in the latter stages of the race.

After the race, Nakagami would be scrapped from the results entirely, after it was found that his team had fitted an illegal air filter. The error was judged to be an honest mistake, but a violation of the rules is a violation of the rules, and Nakagami was expunged from the results.

His removal gave the Marc VDS team the top two steps on the podium, Tom Luthi shifting up into third.

While Rabat’s victory was well taken, the really impressive performances were behind him, with the class rookies. Maverick Viñales crossed the line as fifth, later promoted to fourth once Nakagami had been scrapped from the results.

The step from Moto3 to Moto2 is one of the biggest in racing; the 2012 Moto3 champion took a year to adapt to the class. For Viñales to be running at the front in his very first race proves the Spaniard is something very special indeed.

Two places behind him, reigning World Supersport champion Sam Lowes ended the race in 6th. Several riders have tried to make the step from WSS to Moto2, but ended up struggling badly. So far, Lowes has dealt with aplomb everything the new series has thrown at him. A podium cannot be very far off.

If the faces dominating Moto2 were no surprise, the finishing order in Moto3 was much more of a shakeup. Though it can hardly be considered a shock that the Alexes Rins and Marquez of Estrella Galicia should be running at the front, there were fears that the team would have trouble in the first few races as they worked to get the brand new Honda ready to compete.

HRC appeared to take all of the preseason and the first two sessions of free practice for the Moto3 class, but once qualifying hit, Honda were ready.

Two Hondas led the field in qualifying, then four topped the timesheets during warm up, while on Sunday, there were five Hondas in the top ten for most of the race. The Honda NSF250RW is a serious weapon, and Rins and Marquez will be the title contenders which everyone expected.

Yet it was not a Honda which took the first victory of the year, but rather the young Australian Jack Miller. Miller rode a measured and sensible race, profiting from a mistake by Alex Marquez on the final lap.

Taking his first victory in Grand Prix racing, Miller celebrated exactly as a rider should: exorbitant one-handed stand up wheelies; stand up wheelies to kiss his fairing; clowning and showboating on the bike, taking on ridiculous and exaggerated poses as he rode the cool down lap.

He followed it up with an accidental obscenity in his post-race interview, giving himself over to the joy he felt.

Miller’s victory has been a long time coming, but it was one that was inevitable. The years he spent on a badly underpowered FTR Honda meant he had to find ways in his riding of making the bike go faster. That has turned him into a very complete rider, and he shows great promise for the future. Jack Miller is clearly a future world champion.

Two other riders are worthy of note in the Moto3 race. Miguel Oliveira punched well above his weight on the Mahindra, ending the race in fourth, but over 11 seconds ahead of the next Mahindra. The Suter-built Indian bike is down on power compared to the Honda and the KTM, but Oliveira extracted every last ounce of performance from the bike.

Then there’s Karel Hanika. Hanika finished in 14th position in his Moto3 debut, a remarkable achievement given the deeply competitive nature of the class. The young Czech rider still has an awful lot to learn, but he has clearly demonstrated his potential.

Three races, three deserved winners, plenty to talk about, and some memories that will live for ever. This is the hallmark of a great weekend’s racing. No need to fill our stomachs with the empty calories of speculation, we have the real meat of results to chew over. Bring on Austin.

Photo: © 2014 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

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

Comment:

  1. Slangbuster says:

    Great read Thanks. What a race! Better hold o to your hats boys and girls. I’m going to start hitch hiking to Austin in the morning and make sure I get a good seat.

  2. smiler says:

    The MotoGP race was reasonable, however with 6 bikes crashing, Cal’s electronics problems and the clear and calculated lack of RCV power, it was no more than average.
    Clearly the rules favour Honda again. The RCV being noticable faster than the Yamaha’s. Pedro bescially pootled around the track to take thrid. The fact that Bradl & Bautista were up front for the first part of the race testiment to that. Repsol, and Dorna will be relieved to see Maerguez back at the top though.
    Bautista was back to his normal racing style, causing havoc and you do have to wonder why he is in MotoGP.

    Rossi the only rider, as usual, bringing any kind of theatrte to the racing. As usual he is less interested in qualifying first and instead likes to race. His maturity showing again as he came up from 10th to 2nd.

    But Dorna still have a world of issues with the rules. Crashing meaning engines get used up, the RCV having no power, the fuel issue for Yamaha not allowing them to get past the Honda’s even though they have improved.

    Still mediocre racing and dominated by some Spanish riders who should not be there.

  3. vman2957 says:

    Crashing is part of racing. You override your machinery you crash. The skill is in getting the most out of what you got, you crash you have failed to do this. Championships are not won in one race. The finishing order is as it should be. Great race and yeah go Vale :-)

  4. L2C says:

    “Pedro bescially pootled around the track to take thrid. The fact that Bradl & Bautista were up front for the first part of the race testiment to that.”

    Pedrosa lost 3 positions on less than stellar braking at the start of the race. That put him in 9th. He then made up 6 positions to finish on the podium taking 3rd. Yeah, that’s basically “pootling” around the track to take a podium spot!

    Bautista and Bradl had the good fortune of having 24 hours (three 8 hour days) + 1 hour and 50 mintues to test at Losail. Bautista qualified in 2nd position, Bradl in 7th position just behind Pedrosa. Pedrosa and the other factory guys were only able to test 1 hour and 50 minutes compared to the satellite and Open riders, and with the exception of Marquez, their grid starting positions reflected their lack of time on the track. Yet, if you’re going to compare Bautista and Bradl to Pedrosa, Pedrosa was clearly the one most prepared to face the tricky conditions of Losail. His podium finish was deserved.

    “That doesn’t mean that a tenth world title is on the cards…”

    It’s not in the cards, or on the cards, for any of the MotoGP riders yet. The championship has only just begun. You should know as well as anybody that championships are won, not preordained.

    I know that you sports journalists love to mess around with mystical and metaphysical playthings in your reporting, but we have seen in recent years how title favorites Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, and Casey Stoner each met with circumstances that cost them the title.

    “…that Marquez has already learned to control his more impetuous nature bodes well for the champion. It was an outstanding ride by the Repsol Honda man, and a portent of what is to come.”

    Maybe. Maybe not. And if so, what is to come could be anything. Just ask Nicky Hayden.

    But I agree with you, it was a most excellent race.

  5. David says:

    Great race!

    Not so sure I agree that Honda is faster than the Yamaha.

    Looked like the Yamaha (Rossi) actually would pull the Honda out of the corners.

    Also,down the long straight, Rossi was equal with MM. It came down to who could break the latest into the corner at the end of the straight.

    The slight edge to Honda in speed(if there is one), could be the lighter weight of MM.

    Not sure how much lighter he is than Rossi.

  6. Frank says:

    @David – agreed on the Yam/Honda power. I kept waiting for MM to pull away from Vale on the straights and it simply didn’t happen. Good to see both bikes competitive. Had Jorge waited for his tires to warm up a little more it might have been quite a race up front. Pity there were so many crashes but as mentioned – that’s racing.

    Great battle and it was also great to see VR and MM enjoying themselves on and off the track in parc ferme and in the post race interviews.

  7. kaliberr44 says:

    I hope Rossi will keep up his pace this year.

    Last year he was also second in Qatar, starting from the third row, with much more solid rides from other raiders that day.

    He hyped everybody that day, just to come at 4th place at basically all other races.

  8. dc4go says:

    @ Frank and David. Disagree with you guys MM Honda would pull Vale on demand but Vale was extra strong on the brakes to make up some of the gap. Vale never drafted past MM cause on the draft he was just able to match the Hondas top speed. On the final lap MM pulled Vale by at least 3-4 bike lenths. Awesome race hope it gets even tighter !!

  9. Frank says:

    @dc4go – I get what you are saying and MM definitely throttled it on to re-take Vale out of the corner on their last exchange. I was more thinking about just how much of an advantage the Honda had on the Yamaha last year on the straights. Last year – the advantage was noticeable. In this race, not as much. Vale is definitely the king of late braking but Marc broke deeper into turn 1 when VR came up with the inside in his draft. I kept waiting for him to lose the bike in turn 1 because he rides it so ragged. He was braking later in some cases and closing the door. I guess I just figured the Yamaha would be significantly down on power with the 20 L of fuel but that wasn’t the case for Vale it seemed. I think Austin will be a completely different story of course.

  10. An outstanding race that bodes very well for ‘The Show’ and, perhaps more importantly, Vale had fun dicing with MM on a strongly competitive package. I’m seriously hoping for an announcement from VR that retirement isn’t coming any time soon. The grins he was sporting Sunday were all good signs.

  11. 2ndclass says:

    It was great to hear Advance Australia Fair being played again at a MotoGP event, and to see a bit of emotion from Jack Miller up on the top step.

  12. crshnbrn says:

    @ smiler

    re: “Pedro bescially pootled around the track to take thrid. The fact that Bradl & Bautista were up front for the first part of the race testiment to that.”

    Bradl led the first 8 laps, and Bautista passed Marquez twice for 2nd place, so I guess the term pootled could be applied to your assessment of Marquez’s and Rossi’s riding as well.

    re: “Bautista was back to his normal racing style, causing havoc and you do have to wonder why he is in MotoGP. ”

    I watched the race twice and didn’t witness any “havoc” on anyone’s part. I think passing Marquez twice for 2nd place, and being in 3rd place until two laps from the end demonstrates why he is in MotoGP. Bautista hasn’t been a turn one bowling ball for some time.

    re: “Still mediocre racing and dominated by some Spanish riders who should not be there.”

    Qatar was far from “mediocre”, and if it was “dominated” by any Spanish rider it was Marquez.

  13. smiler says:

    crshnbrn
    Well Pedro did pootle about because Rossi qualified 10th, 4 places behind Pedro and Bradl qualified one place behind Pedro but went past him.
    Pedro made up no places because those in front of him crashed.
    Bradl however made it to the front, having passed both Rossi and Merguez. Rossi made it past Pedro and very nearly Merguez and some other riders on his way from 10th.
    Pedro finished 3 seconds behind his team mate, where as Rossi finished 0.259 seconds behind.

    As for Bautista.
    He, as usual went mad on the first lap and went wide on a number of occasions and crashed out….again.
    In 2013, he punted Rossi off the track at his home GP in Mugello.
    http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/191898/1/rossi-bautista-closed-the-line-but-i-was-in-front.html
    Then went on to do almost the same thing again at the next race:
    http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/192431/1/valentino-rossi-bautista-becomes-a-little-bit-crazy.html
    In 2011 he punted Lorenzo off the track at Assen:
    http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/181417/1/jorge-lorenzo-blasts-crazy-bautista-move.html
    He crashed out in Qatar in 2011:
    http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/167540/1/alvaro-bautista-breaks-femur-in-qatar-crash.html
    So no issues for some time, apart from 2014, first race, 2013, 2012 and 2011. So enough said about Bautista or Crashtista.

    As for Qatar, if you take out Rossi, there was almost no racing. other than 6 people crashing.
    Merguez started on pole and finished on Pole. Racing is when the winner starts in other than 1st place and first place changes more than once…..a lap.

    3 of the top 5 were Spanish. 3 of the Top 5 sponsored by Spanish companies. 30% of the riders were Spanish yet well over 50% of them crashed out. There are 4 Italian riders, all of whom finished and 4 British riders, 3 of whom finished. 25% of all riders in the Moto1, 2 and MotoGP are Spanish.

    In 1992 when Dorna took over MotoGP, there had been no champions from Spain. Yet since 1992 there have been 4. In 1992 there were 8 riders from Spain in all classes, now there are 22. In 1992, no Spanish rider placed higher than 7th and now.

    In 1992 there were 2 Spanish rounds, now there are 4.

    Next year, both Factory Honda riders, sponsored by Repsol (Spanish) will be Spanish, both Yamaha riders will likely be Spanish, sponsored by Movistar (Spanish) and would bet money on one of the 2 Suzuki riders being Spanish. Even at the height of the American and GB domination of MotoGP there have never been more than @4 riders from each country, even when US sponsors dominated. Odd that isn’t it, considering Dorna is a Spanish organisation.

    Enough said really.

  14. Frank says:

    @ smiler:

    [So no issues for some time, apart from 2014, first race, 2013, 2012 and 2011. So enough said about Bautista or Crashtista.]

    Again- as mentioned before, no issues in Qatar. He crashed on his own pushing for podium/victory. Bautista raced consistently and aggressivley at the end of last season and crshnbrn’s right – he has cleaned up his riding and definitely is one of the faster moto riders on the planet.

    [As for Qatar, if you take out Rossi, there was almost no racing. other than 6 people crashing.]

    Yeah no racing… aside from all of that racing. You just mentioned several events that are results of ‘racing.’ Another poster commented that crashing is part of racing – as in, the rider is pushing the machine to and beyond it’s limits. All of this is for the sake of racing. The fact that so many riders went down meant that is exactly what they were all doing.

    [Merguez started on pole and finished on Pole. Racing is when the winner starts in other than 1st place and first place changes more than once…..a lap. ]

    Ooooh… is that racing?! Shoot, I guess I should update my definition to get with the times. I’m pretty sure that if there was a lead change once a lap, that would mean 22 lead changes at Qatar, which I have to say would be pretty dang exciting. I’m sorry -MM started in pole but was definitely not in first at the end of the first lap and for most of the start of the race. There was definitely some racing going on in there somewhere.

    [of the top 5 were Spanish. 3 of the Top 5 sponsored by Spanish companies. 30% of the riders were Spanish yet well over 50% of them crashed out. There are 4 Italian riders, all of whom finished and 4 British riders, 3 of whom finished. 25% of all riders in the Moto1, 2 and MotoGP are Spanish. ]

    … and here we go… I have to say- if anything, you are consistent smiler.

  15. Jw says:

    Let’s be sure in 2014 we as a group of GP junkies can first be sure we remain brothers of the sport. There is no need for anyone to divide us past the point of not returning. I wonder how many fans are tempted to speak up but don’t because, well you know…

    Spirited exchanges are essential and most entertaining. I want to laugh and be a part of this group, I think we all share this in common, so let’s build this up and have a most excellent season!

  16. crshnbrn says:

    ^
    Agreed!

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion/point of view, and we should strive to debate them in a civil fashion. But when someone merely wants to argue for the sake of arguing and spews fallacies to back up their position, I can see how MotoGP fans would be reluctant to comment. Perhaps next time I’ll resist the urge to reply to someone’s BS and go do something more constructive like scrubbing the toilet.

  17. Ricky says:

    quote:[Merguez started on pole and finished on Pole. Racing is when the winner starts in other than 1st place and first place changes more than once…..a lap. ]

    it’s still early but this has to be the stupidest comment of the year.

  18. crshnbrn says:

    re: “Bautista and Bradl had the good fortune of having 24 hours (three 8 hour days) + 1 hour and 50 mintues to test at Losail. Bautista qualified in 2nd position, Bradl in 7th position just behind Pedrosa. Pedrosa and the other factory guys were only able to test 1 hour and 50 minutes compared to the satellite and Open riders, and with the exception of Marquez, their grid starting positions reflected their lack of time on the track.”

    What if the non-factory teams and riders were allowed to test as much as they wanted at the track prior to FP1 provided they did not go over their allotment of 120 tires for testing purposes for the season? Non-factory riders could benefit from additional track time to gain experience and get their bikes setup to suit their riding style. Non-factory riders tend to move around more from team to team, and they could use the additional track time to adapt to a different bike or gel with a different crew especially early in the season.

    If the non-factory test at Qatar the week before the race was what led to the starting grid looking the way it did, and riders other than the four usual suspects mixing it up at the front, then perhaps additional track time for non-factory teams could be more of a field leveler than all of the engine/tire/fuel regulations.

    It’s just a thought.

  19. L2C says:

    @ crshnbrn

    The other factor to take into consideration for the factory riders was that they had just finished testing on the high-grip surface at Philip Island. Losail was slippery and sandy, the track temperature fluctuated day to day and was even cooler on race day. It was very difficult for the factory riders to adapt to that plus the new Bridgestones in just under 2 hours total track time before the race.

    “If the non-factory test at Qatar the week before the race was what led to the starting grid looking the way it did, and riders other than the four usual suspects mixing it up at the front, then perhaps additional track time for non-factory teams could be more of a field leveler than all of the engine/tire/fuel regulations.”

    That’s not a bad idea, actually.
    ****

    @ smiler

    “Well Pedro did pootle about because Rossi qualified 10th, 4 places behind Pedro and Bradl qualified one place behind Pedro but went past him.
    Pedro made up no places because those in front of him crashed.
    Bradl however made it to the front, having passed both Rossi and Merguez. Rossi made it past Pedro and very nearly Merguez and some other riders on his way from 10th.
    Pedro finished 3 seconds behind his team mate, where as Rossi finished 0.259 seconds behind.”

    And with all of that, smiler, Lorenzo and Bradl crashed out in front of Rossi and Marquez. So – using your logic – Rossi and Marquez “pootled” their way to the podium just like Pedrosa did, who only had one rider, Bautista, crash out in front of him.

    Yep that’s all there is to it, smiler. Pootle on.

  20. Jw says:

    I too hope Rossi this season can stay competitive enough to remain in the sport as a rider. Whatever got worked out with his team, tires and bike worked well enough against the mighty Honda of MM. Anything can happen in racing, ask JL, right? Getting right down to it, a friendly duel with MM and VR provides way more grins than if was with JL. I think because after the races Rossi is such a good sport about it all, he gets it. The overall package of VR will be sorely missed when he decides to retire.

    I have written Dorna about them doing a ATF segment on the disposition of a crashed moto gp bike, how they are fixed, what gets saved and what gets tossed, where do the parts go. I am very interested on this topic as an Independant damage appraiser in my profession. Dorna never replied back…. .? I would love to have a piece of bodywork off a bike with a riders number on it to put in my media room, or a bent wheel, piston, exhaust or some other tasty part that is of no use to a team.

    Does anyone know where these parts go? A team could ebay these parts to help with the costs associated to racing.

  21. L2C says:

    @ Jw

    In the documentary they are producing, maybe Tech 3 will cover what they do with damaged bikes and parts that have been written off. Maybe it’s a good time to contact them with the questions you have. Probably wouldn’t hurt to try.

    http://motomatters.com/press_release/2014/03/27/tech_3_press_release_an_insight_into_the.html

  22. For any factory parts on leased bikes, it’s a forgone conclusion that those parts are returned to the factory to be analyzed (in the case of part failure) and then destroyed to protect intellectual property. The only bits one could ever possibly hope to get would be stuff that is available to Joe Consumer. Even bits of smashed fairing are returned because of the IP with regard to CF recipe, aero finishing, paint, etc.

    When you’re dealing with sport at this level, no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of performance. No stone is, therefore, left unturned when it comes to protecting a factory’s/team’s secrets.