Normally, I would start my Saturday round up talking about how pole position was won, whether it was expected or a surprise, and taking glance at race pace among the main contenders for victory on Sunday.
But that would be to ignore the elephant in the room. Sure, Andrea Dovizioso’s pole was impressive, and a little unexpected given just how quick Marc Márquez has been all weekend. But, that’s not the big news from Brno.
The big story in MotoGP is in the final place on the fourth row of the grid, and how he ended up there.
Brno is the place the bomb finally burst between Maverick Viñales and crew chief Ramon Forcada. The tension has been building between the two for months, with rumors that Viñales has wanted to replace Forcada since the beginning of the year.
Viñales has complained that Forcada will not make the radical changes that the young Spaniard requested in search of a solution to the traction problems. Forcada has wanted to stick to the plan, and work through issues methodically, so as not to lose sight of the bigger picture.
For the past few weeks, it has been an open secret that Viñales will be getting a new crew chief in 2019 (Esteban Garcia, currently crew chief for Bradley Smith at KTM).
But Forcada and Viñales have soldiered along, their disagreements only occasionally seeping out into the public, such as at the Le Mans race, where Viñales told the media he had tried to crash in every corner because he felt it was the only way to demonstrate to his team that the bike would go no faster.
On Friday, the Hondas were looking pretty strong at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Dani Pedrosa led FP1, with Cal Crutchlow just behind him. In FP2, Marc Márquez opened a big lead over Crutchlow, with the rest some distance behind.
On Saturday, Marc Márquez looked just about unbeatable, despite his slip up in qualifying. Six tenths quicker than Johann Zarco, and effortlessly quick in a wet FP3.
Over a second quicker than his teammate Pedrosa in FP4, an advantage that was almost embarrassing. The portents were clear on Saturday night: this was Marc Márquez’ race to lose.
And that is exactly what he did, before the lights had even gone out. A combination of ignorance of the rules and panic meant he blew his chance of winning the race as soon as he jumped off his bike to try to restart it on the grid.
From there, he piled error upon error to make the situation worse. By the end of Sunday, he had managed to throw away any chance of salvaging points from the Argentina round, and run up a 15-point deficit to Andrea Dovizioso.
He had also managed to create a public relations disaster, though to be fair, he had more than a little help doing that.
After a poor start, which saw him drop from ninth on the grid to thirteenth at the end of the first lap, Jorge Lorenzo was making steady progress through the field at Qatar. His lap times were starting to come down to match, and on some laps even beat, the pace the leaders were running.
As the halfway mark approached, and less than four seconds behind the leaders, Lorenzo started to believe he was capable of salvaging a decent result from a difficult start.
That all ended on Lap 13. The Spaniard crashed out of the race at Turn 4, when his front brake failed and he had to drop the bike in the gravel. “I just felt that the level of the front brake was getting closer to my fingers and I didn’t have brake,” Lorenzo described the incident afterwards.
“I lost some meters so I tried to use less front brake and more the rear to try to delay this thing that was getting worse lap-by-lap.”
“Unfortunately when into this Turn 4 the first part of the brake was OK, but suddenly I just missed completely this brake so I had no brake and was going very fast through the gravel to the wall, and I jumped off the bike to avoid hitting the wall.”
What had caused Lorenzo to crash? “The bike came to the box without one part,” Lorenzo said. “Some mechanics went to the corner to see if they could find it and luckily they found it – it was very difficult, but they found it. One part was missing from the bike. I don’t know if it was before the crash or after the crash.”
Both Lorenzo and team boss Davide Tardozzi remained vague about the problem, referring only to “parts” in general, and not specific components. The entire braking system had been handed to Brembo for further examination.
As far as PR stunts go in the motorcycle industry, this one might be the best. This is because this weekend, Harley-Davidson is going to roll into Ryder, North Dakota with the mission to teach everyone there how to ride a motorcycle.
With a population of 84 residents, making riders out of the people of Ryder – do you see what Harley-Davidson did there? – might not be as large of a task as one would think, but it is still an important start into making motorcyclists out of the general population.
President Trump was scheduled to visit Harley-Davidson tomorrow, but those plans have since been scrapped because of Harley-Davidson’s worry about protests at the event.
Trump’s trip was supposed to include a tour of Harley-Davidson’s Menomonee Falls factory, where he would then sign several executive orders that relate to manufacturing in the United States.
With protests continuing over President Trump’s taking office, and the subsequent executive orders and personnel changes he has made to the government, reports are swirling that Harley-Davidson has backed away from hosting the 45th president.
The last 24 hours have been a strange one for Kawasaki USA. Yesterday, Kawasaki announced through a spokesperson that it was dropping its advertising support of Donald Trump’s new reality show, The New Celebrity Apprentice.
Then today, the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer did an about-face on the issue, releasing a statement on Facebook that distanced it from any political motivations in its previous announcement, and declared the departure of the company’s representative who made the statements.
The whole controversy stems from a Reuters story about Kawasaki’s departure as an advertiser on the The New Celebrity Apprentice TV show, where Kawasaki Public Relations Manager Kevin Allen was quoted as saying the following:
“Once we understood the concerns of American citizens, we have taken the approach of agreeing not to participate in the show in the future as long as Mister Trump is involved as an executive producer.”
In response to Honda’s press release issued on Monday, Yamaha today published a press release on the incidents at Sepang which takes issue with Honda’s statements. You can read Yamaha’s press release, after the jump.
AMA Pro Supersport racer Elena Myers will have a chance to flog one of the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R bikes at the Indianapolis GP this year. Getting an opportunity to acquaint herself with the MotoGP machinery, Myers will do a few laps at 12:45 PM on Thursday before the Indy GP, in a PR event put together by American Suzuki. After a similar publicity event fell-through last year, the ride will be Myers’s first on a GP bike, and hopefully a glimpse into the future, as the young California native has made it clear that the premier class is where she wants to take her career.
“Words cannot describe how excited I am to ride the Suzuki GSV-R at Indy during the MotoGP weekend this year,” said Myers. “We had talked about it last year, but things didn’t work out, so here’s a big thanks to everyone involved for making this possible. When I sat on the bike last year, it felt like it was made to fit me. So actually being able to spin a few laps on it will be quite the treat. I’m really looking forward to the weekend.”
Himself or herself, whatever the case may be, publicists and PR agents are hired basically to save their clients from themselves. They are the filter between companies/celebraties and the media, and as such try and prevent their clients from saying anything too unsavory. When Spanish radio station Marca called up Lorenzo on Tuesday to celebrate the Fiat-Yamaha rider’s birthday, they reminded Spanish rider that he shares his special day with another, slightly less famous, celebrity: porn star Rocco Siffredi. It gets worse after the jump.
It has been years since Al Gore discovered the internet, but apparently the fad of browsing “websites” has finally caught on in Italy. Rightly so, Valentino Rossi has finally created a web space of his own, valentinorossi.com. The site is well done, but can be difficult to navigate at times. Brace yourself as it will pop-up a full-screen window, and start blarring Italian rock music. Psshh…that’s so 2000 & 3.
This 1913 Premier 3 1/2hp 3 speed motorcycle was the oldest example of British two-wheeled freedom at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.