Sunday Summary at Mugello: Lorenzo’s Persistence, Cruchlow’s Fierceness, & Honda’s Hidden Weakness

06/02/2013 @ 7:35 pm, by David Emmett22 COMMENTS

Sunday Summary at Mugello: Lorenzos Persistence, Cruchlows Fierceness, & Hondas Hidden Weakness Sunday Mugello Italian GP MotoGP Scott Jones 05 635x423

Qualifying doesn’t tell you the whole story. Which is a good thing, as otherwise they could just hand out the trophies after qualifying and be done with it. A lot of things change in the 24 hours between qualifying and the race – weather, temperature, set up – but most of all, qualifying is just a couple of laps, while the race means spending a long time on the track. Mugello turned out to be a perfect example of this.

Dani Pedrosa had been getting faster every session, especially as the temperatures rose and the grip of the track improved. The Repsol Honda man blasted to pole, just pipping Jorge Lorenzo at the end of qualifying and setting a new lap record in the process. With race day looking warmer, and the track cleaning up every session, Pedrosa looked the hot favorite to dominate at the Italian track.

It turned out Pedrosa had been bluffing. He and his team had worked out early on that the new tires Bridgestone had brought did not quite work for them. “We have a modified shoulder on the rear, so at this track with this tire, we couldn’t really get the grip.

You are a long time on the edge on this track, so I couldn’t really open well, and get drive out of corners,” Pedrosa told the press conference after finishing second to Jorge Lorenzo.

Lorenzo’s victory had been hard to predict from his qualifying performance, the Yamaha man going well, but seemingly easily outdone by Pedrosa once the Repsol rider was up to speed. On Sunday morning, Lorenzo showed some of his true colors, laying down a punishing pace which boded well for the race.

Once the flag dropped, Lorenzo was away, and after a move on Pedrosa he himself branded as ‘too aggressive’, he led the trio at the head of the championship as they pulled a gap on the chasing riders.

It looked for 10 laps like we might get a repeat of Brno 2012, with Pedrosa sticking right on Lorenzo’s tail throughout. But unseen to the spectators, two factors were at play: Jorge Lorenzo’s fuel tank was emptying, and Dani Pedrosa’s tires were wearing. The gap which Lorenzo opened up on lap 13 was a combination of both factors.

Pedrosa started losing edge grip and was struggling to follow, while Lorenzo, who had been holding back while waiting for the fuel load to drop, upped the pace to put pressure on Pedrosa. Within a couple of laps, the race was done, and Lorenzo went on to take his second imperious victory of the season.

The key to Lorenzo’s – and indeed Cal Crutchlow’s – race is the design of the Yamaha fuel tank. They have moved their tank further back and a fraction lower to create more stability on the brakes.

While the top section of the tank – in reality a large, oddly-shaped fuel cell which sits largely under the seat – still contains fuel, the bike needs to be handled with care, but once the fuel falls under a certain level, the Yamaha M1 is transformed.

The fuel tank is the biggest difference between the factory and the satellite machines, and one of the reasons why Crutchlow struggles a little more in the first few laps than Lorenzo does.

Crutchlow was in the same boat as Lorenzo. He had to wait for the fuel load to drop before he could really start to push on. He had also been hampered at the start by Andrea Dovizioso, as the Italian had had a huge moment at the start with failing electronics on his Ducati GP13.

For whatever reason, the anti-wheelie system had failed to kick in on Dovizioso’s Desmosedici, and when he pulled off the line, the bike tried to rear up very fast. The Italian had had trouble controlling the ensuing wheelie, and had nearly hit Crutchlow in the process.

Once he had got past Dovizioso and the halfway mark had been passed, Crutchlow started chasing down Pedrosa, and looked like he might have gotten close. But Pedrosa upped his pace after Marc Marquez crashed out, and Crutchlow settled for the podium, rather than risk it all to get second.

The man who made Crutchlow’s podium possible – though Crutchlow would argue that this is not the case – had a pretty remarkable race. Marc Marquez set a new lap record early in the race, and was chasing Lorenzo after he got by his teammate. But his race weekend ended in the gravel, when he lost both wheels simultaneously at the downhill right hander of Savelli.

Just why he had crashed was a mystery to Marquez, as when he and his crew examined the data, they saw that both speed and lean angle at the time of the crash had been identical to the lap before. This is perhaps a lesson in tire management, with Marquez lacking the experience to recognize the symptoms of a rapidly fading Bridgestone tire.

That Marquez was even riding was frankly remarkable, given his very high speed off on Friday afternoon. That crash was the fastest ever in Grand Prix racing, Marquez losing the front at 340 km/h, and laying the bike down at the thick end of 300 km/h.

A cracked bone in his arm, a huge bruise on his leg, and a badly swollen chin – arguments raged in the paddock over whether Marquez looked most like Michael Schumacher, Jay Leno or Bruce Forsyth – meant that Marquez should not have been capable of running at the front, yet he not only chased Lorenzo and Pedrosa, he stuffed it past Pedrosa and was chasing Jorge Lorenzo.

This won’t be the last crash of Marc Marquez, but with each passing day, he learns more and grows quicker.

A crash also blighted the race of Valentino Rossi. The Italian had qualified relatively poorly, and when his clutch overheated – a relatively common occurrence in MotoGP – he had also lost drive off the line.

That left him way down the order after the start, and as anyone who has seen a start live, the middle of the pack is where danger lives. This time, danger was in the shape of Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard colliding with Rossi between turns 2 and 3, and taking them both out.

So whose fault was it? Race Direction called it as a racing incident, a verdict with which both Bautista and Rossi seemed to agree, though Rossi was still fuming that he was collected and dumped in the kitty litter. He did his best to not blame Bautista, while all the time blaming Bautista.

What appears to have happened is that Bautista hugged the inside line round turn 2, which Rossi used to his advantage, passing around the outside. When the track flicked back, they were two men on different bikes headed for the same piece of tarmac, and a collision was inevitable.

Was Bautista to blame? Only insofar as he didn’t look right when trying to close the gap. Was Rossi to blame? Well if you don’t want to get caught up on traffic at the start, you want to ensure first and foremost that you are not mid-pack with the pychos when the red flag drops.

Rossi’s poor qualifying is making it very hard for him to get anywhere near the front runners, and if he’s not near, he will find it hard to battle for a podium.

This was a racing incident. It wasn’t a pretty one, and it definitely wrecked any chance Rossi may have had of scoring a podium – Rossi was adamant that he could have gotten a podium, if he hadn’t been dumped in the gravel by Bautista.

But Rossi knows what to do: elbows out, goggles on, and go fight for the front two – preferably, front one – row during qualifying. Until that starts happening, things won’t start to come together. More later.

Photo: © 2013 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. bemer2six says:

    Yes I would like very much to here more later, and especially about the racing incident between Bautista and VR from footage that I saw and I looked at it a few times it seem to me that VR took out AB .

  2. Finn says:

    Fun race, feel bad for Marc, but it was a privilege listening to Spies in the commentary booth!

  3. Cpt.Slow says:

    Racing incident… Rossi was leaning on AB. Btw, that wall needs to be further back! Otherwise, race was slightly above boring. The kind of stuff I expect from #99 / #26. Bravo to Dovi and Bradl, boys are working. Pirro and Espagaro are standouts… but man, got to give it up to Cal.

  4. Paul McM says:

    Re Spies — Agreed! I hope Speed TV learns how much the audio is improved by having an articulate, world-class rider, instead of some moron, failed disc jockey screaming “oh they’re really going fast now!” Though I cringed during Marc’s crash with 2 (3?) laps to go, I enjoyed this race coverage as much as any in recent memory because Spies (who probably has a higher IQ than either paid announcer) was telling us important stuff about the racers, the machines, the conditions, and the strategies. Fantastic! This should be a wake-up call to Dorna. IMHO, Dorna should S-can the entire regular English-language broadcast reporting/play by play team. Those no-nothing clowns should all have a cork stuffed in their gobs and be thrown under a train. They’re THAT bad. Spies proved that knowledge trumps noisy BS.

  5. Spamtastikcus says:

    VR was ahead of Batista when Batista hit him. By that very fact he is absolved of blame. That is not to say that Batista did anythin stupid or uncommon.

  6. L2C says:

    Bautista took Lorenzo out last year at Assen and was penalized for it, but today’s incident was borderline, I think.

    That said, I question Bautista’s situational awareness ability. Seeing that it was the first lap of the race, that he was mid-pack with a bunch of other riders barely through Turn 2, he should have been far more careful and observant of the circumstances. He may not have seen Rossi, but at some point leading up to the point of the collision, he had to have known that he was a member of tightly packed school of fish riders making their way through turns 2 and 3. He took a wider line than just about everybody else in that group who had to make same apex. What made him think his space would be still be reserved for him when he got back? Making that assumption, at that point in the race, seemed incredibly dimwitted, to me. And to be honest, I thought the race was ruined because of it.

    Pedrosa also went wide at the start of the race. He did it at Turn 1 and Lorenzo just slipped right through to take the lead. But Dani, being a far better rider than Alvaro, made an adjustment when he noticed that Jorge was making a pass. Thus no collision. That’s because Dani was aware of his situation, whereas Alvaro thought he was on an out-lap for FP4.

    ANYWAY, I’m glad that Dani did the best that he could do today. He held his position as long as he could, and kept the bike upright for a 2nd place podium finish in spite of the new Bridgestones and Márquez’s overtake. Today, Dani took a page right out of Lorenzo’s playbook: “If you want to win the championship, you have got to finish the race.”

    Márquez’s pass to take 2nd position from Dani was one of the more beautiful and clean passes I’ve ever seen, too bad for him it ended up not counting for anything. Rookies will make rookie mistakes. More are on the way. I’m sure Márquez is dreaming about the lesson that Dani taught him.

    And I felt bad for Rossi. Instantly. Despite my enthusiasm for Dani, I didn’t want to see Rossi go down. Especially not that way, and especially not after what happened at Le Mans. But it seems like he still may be made of rubber, so let’s see how Catalunya goes.

    Rossi’s big lesson today? Qualify well. Bautista did him a favor.

    Good on Cal for snagging his second podium in a row. He just made Lin Jarvis’ job a whole lot harder.

    Also a convincing and magnificent race for Scott Redding winning in Moto2. I think I may have just jumped on his bandwagon – but I’m very happy that Pol Espargaro had a well-thought out race for a 4th-position finish, despite starting on the fourth row. Hopefully that’s a sign that he’s regaining his center of focus.

  7. B.T. says:

    All these comments and no one has said the obvious.Cal is the second best Yamaha rider in the Paddock.As much as it pains me to say this,Cal is outriding everyone with the exception of Marquez and Esparago.It is a pity that he will have to leave Yamaha to get a factory ride. Although it would kill them financially,Yamaha should take a page from Repsol Honda some years back and have a three man Factory team. Cal seems almost obsessed with winning a GP. Thank God for the new Multi screen on MOTOGP.COM where you can see the real races that are happening in the back of the pack. Dovi is outperforming his teammate and Spies I’m afraid is close to losing his seat to PIRRO.
    Luckily,the season is still young but as we all keep our fingers crossed for Rossi, Cal,Marquez and Esparago are stealing the show and Lorenzo is going underappreciated,while Dani is inching closer to his First “Big Boy” class Championship!

  8. Alex MacPherson says:

    I am just glad that Marquez wasn’t badly injured or killed on Friday. It could have been tragic.

    It was a good race. Lorenzo did a good job knocking out the laps. It was only a matter of time before Marquez binned it during a race… youthful exuberance and inexperience at this level.

    I am glad Cal is doing so well. I think he has great things ahead of him.

    Shame about Vale. That’s racing though.

  9. TexusTim says:

    great post on the race.
    if marquez had settled for third till the last lap even if not able to pass pedrosa he would have broke more records this weekend other than the fastest crash wich he handled very well, deciding to lay if down in a fraction of a second is allmost all pure instinct gastest lap fastes crash..bet he would trade the later for firts rookie to podium that many times out.

    as for spies announcing..sorry I take a pass on that too many self promotion comments and repeated statments..he pats himslef on the back too much for me..this is a guy if he handled himslef right he wouldnt be looking for a ride next year..this is part of his issue..when faced with the right path he chooses somthing less constructive to his racing career…I dont want to see this guy in the announcers booth till his racing is done..if he’s done now..no need to have him there as he wil have wasted all of his tallent without realizing or accompishing the real world possabilty of a motogp championship.

  10. TexusTim says:

    JUST GIVE CRUTCH ALL THE GOODIES RIGHT NOW FOR CHRIST SAKES..WHAT ARE THEY THINKING ?? he will threaten lorenzo ? rossi ? like bt says he’s the second fastest on the yamaha.
    give tech three and crutchlow all the factory support and that nice gas tank would be a good start or
    I guess crutch will just have to buy a coulple himslef again…..SHAMFULL HOW THEY DOING HIM MAKES ME MAD AT YAMAHA..IT’S LIKE DISCRIMINATION..WHATS THERE WORRY A BRIT MIGHT BE AT THE TOP THIS YEAR !!! i mean you got a great rider makes no sence not to fully support him.

  11. He’s not looking for a ride next year, he has a two-year contract with Ducati. From what it sounds like, that contract can take him anywhere Ducati rides though…

  12. Matt says:

    I wish someone would duct tape Cal Crutchlow’s feet to his pegs.

  13. rennrad says:

    for me the crash involving rossi and bautista ruined the race. to make matters worse, it took ages for the joker (aka marquez – “why so serious?” :D) to notice that “medrosa” was losing ground and only then overtake him – we saw it happening in qatar. anyway, boring…

    moto3 race was way better, even more after seeing our countryman (granado #57) finally fighting for positions in the middle of the peloton. kudos for redding as well.

  14. TexusTim says:

    Jensen I know he has a contract now..thats not to say it will change at the end of this year..he has already voiced his opinion several times..this is sure to do one of two things..either get him what he needs or let him out of his contract and let him and spies bring suzuki back the right way..I dont think they will make a third factory ride for him unless they think hes going to leave but that could also backfire..lets just see what happens at the end of this year. but were he’s concerned I think nothing is said and done. for 2014…I think he could be at the top every race considering how he’s doing if he had full factory support and that magical gas tank…lol..it maybe the tank reguires a different chassis to make it fit in there…

  15. ctk says:

    Wait a minute… Crutchlow is going to DUCATI next year? Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME????????? He is JUST NOW hitting his stride on the M1… why throw away that momentum???? Hes already had 2 podiums out of 5 races…. how many podiums has Ducati had since Stoner left 5 YEARS ago??? Cal Cal Cal Cal no!!!!!! Granted they are supposed to have an all new bike next year… but that’s a hell of a gamble to take given dude is having the best year ever on his bike now. I haven’t seen anything official on that so I HOPE that is just a baseless rumor.

    The race yesterday was good. First time I was happy to see J Lo do his thing. He needed the redemption. Rossi is trying my patience. He should retire for 2014 and give his spot to CAL. Marquie’s struggles are endearing. It’s scary that they only thing holding him back is experience/strategy. He’s got a champion’s pace, he just needs a champion’s head. He’s been INCREDIBLY lucky… gotta save that luck for big passes, not 215 MPH lowsides. Strange that Honda is still struggling w/edge grip. What the hell is Yamaha’s secret???

    All in all can’t complain. It was entertaining from start to finish.

  16. Ronald Burgundy says:

    To be honest, I was just happy Rossi didn’t get obliterated. So happy he’s miraculously unhurt.

    …and I get it, if you end up midpack in the first lap these things could happen, hence the importance of a good grid position and a good start, but come on! Alvaro’s name seems to come up too often when 1st lap mishaps happen.

    MM impressed again. His crash seemed more fluke than mistake, and a gift to Pedrosa who does not seem to be the #1 rider for Honda.

    Is Pedrosa still an odds-on favorite for world champion this season? Is it too soon for him to meter out his efforts with a bunch of safe 3rd place finishes sprinkled with the occasional win or 2nd? Lorenzo, MM, and Cruthlow made it clear–they’re balls-out to till the end of the season.

  17. “He’s not looking for a ride next year, he has a two-year contract with Ducati. From what it sounds like, that contract can take him anywhere Ducati rides though…”

    If Checa gets tired of tooling around on an uncompetitive Panigale and retires, Spies might find his butt parked in WSBK. With Pirro doing such a good job for Ducati right now, he’d look pretty good with a full-time ride in MotoGP. Crutchlow would do very well to think twice before jumping ship from Yamaha. His “I won’t ride under Espargaro” posturings and chest beating will not be doing his negotiation positioning any favours.

  18. JD says:

    CRT!!! Dramafree!! No bitches

  19. TexusTim says:

    I do not think spes will have that ride next year..sorry just my opinion but I believe him and crutch will find that is the only place next year to get a full factory ride..my guess is pierro will get elivated to spies ride for 2014..remember espargo is comming in and no rookie rule so somthing other than what we see now is comming thru, just isnt enough seats and all the factory teams really want young guys who grew up with this tc technology..sans how well marquez is doing….he just didnt settle down this past weekend and probably rode a little over the top trying to be on the podium.

  20. TheSwede says:

    All this brouhaha over Pol.. Cal’s got it right, he’s not Marquez 2.0. Give him a ride, but elevating him to factory status (even within the Tech 3 team) right off the bat and expecting him to throw down the way Marc has is stupid. I do think he’s probably a better rider than B. Smith, but Yamaha is just gonna look foolish when he comes in and is maybe running around with Bradl and Bautista. I mean sure, that’d be fantastic for a rookie, but worthy of a factory ride? Over Crutchlow? Nah..

    Cal might be going a bit overboard with his statements to the press but f**k it he’s earned that right. IMO he should take Bradl’s ride. Satellite team yes but with a factory contract/bike that should suit his riding style more than the JL desgined M1. Bradl’s contract is up this year and he’s way under performing..

  21. “IMO he should take Bradl’s ride. Satellite team yes but with a factory contract/bike that should suit his riding style more than the JL desgined M1.”

    It’s an interesting proposition, but would Crutchlow get on well with the Nissin brakes? Crutchlow is a through-and-through Brembo guy. I doubt that Honda would waive LCR’s contract to run Nissin components. So, that adds another layer of complication to where Crutchlow wants to go. Personally, I see his best chances with the Yamaha squads. He’s truly learned how to ride the wheels off the M1. Jumping ship to Honda, Ducati or Suzuki just opens up a whole world of uncertainty.

    Pass the popcorn, folks. Silly Season is well and truly underway. :-D

  22. TheSwede says:

    @Trane

    Oh snap, I didn’t realize Bradl was on Nissin’s as well, I thought that was just Bautista and Gresini.. That kinda throws a wrench in the whole thing.