“Stoner’s not just winning on his favourite tracks; with the Honda at his disposal, he’s making even the least preferred ones to look like favourites.”
Motogp riders, of late, seem to succumb to injuries that apparently form a pattern. Rewind a season and riders were plagued by arm-pump issues and were forced to go under the knife. Breaking collarbones is the new thing that that hangs over the grid like Damocles’ sword. Pedrosa has already taken an indefinite break due to this with Tech 3 Yamaha riders Edwards and Crutchlow falling victim to the same phenomenon in quick succession. As feared earlier, the grid size crumbled down to a lowly number of fifteen, despite Edwards making a lightening quick recovery to hop on to his M1, without which the number could have ended being ridiculed to a greater extent.
Stoner demonstrated his devastating speed knows no boundaries as he completed a hat-trick of victories aboard the Honda in Silverstone this weekend, something that last happened under the magical hands of Rossi way back in 2003. With this win under mild showers, not only has he dethroned the provisional leader Lorenzo, he also stretched the lead to almost a race win and cemented his title candidature further more. Despite looking comfortably poised to win the crown this year, stopping which would require a eureka moment for even Lorenzo, such an impeccable display of consistency and outright pace goes on to indicate how much of his raw talent remained latent under the obstinate Ducati all these years. Stoner’s not just winning on his favourite tracks; with the Honda at his disposal, he’s making even the least preferred ones to look like favourites.
Lorenzo has been, till now, fighting a losing battle against Stoner and is clearly on a damage limitation mode rather than mounting a strong attack till Yamaha gets back on equal footing with Honda on equipment front. Eyeing consistent podiums, which richly paid off last year, is a good strategy, but Stoner’s win rate of four out of six projects this approach in a poor light this time. Unable to take a straight fight to him in any conditions, the rest of the field including the man sporting the number one plate will have to rely on a stroke of bad luck to put brakes on Stoner’s momentum, the chance of which looks very bleak.
Spies and Simoncelli continued to prove their inability to attune to changing weather conditions as they recorded another DNF maintaining a miss rate of fifty percent, two of which were thanks to rainy conditions. It was a shame Spies’ accident was not captured by any of the cameras. What was however observed after Spies’ name was seen to be missing from the classification was a mangled piece of metal, which bore testimony to the magnitude of the impact. Spies, though, remains unscathed thanks to the back-protector, which was completely crushed.
Both Lorenzo and Simoncelli cracked under their own pressure originally intended to be piled on Dovizioso. Unable to get past a slightly slower Dovizioso, Lorenzo first hit the deck as his desperation to chase down an escaping Stoner got the better of him. Simoncelli followed suit within moments as his pace was only good enough in making feigned passing attempts and went sliding down the gravel when his urge couldn’t be translated into action. This DNF is a monumental blow to Lorenzo’s bid for the crown as Lorenzo, despite being a paragon of consistency, finally broke under pressure to chase Stoner down ceding substantial ground to the Australian by gifting the points’ lead to the latter on a platter.
Edwards arrived at Silverstone off the back of his collarbone-smashing accident and with no less than 13 screws being riveted. The Texas Tornado put up a gallant ride braving treacherously slippery conditions to get a podium finishing only behind the factory Hondas of Stoner and Dovizioso. When Yamaha thought their fortunes were ruined beyond salvage, Edwards saved their day with a heroic ride into the podium something that deserves rich encomiums. The fact that Edwards received the loudest roar of applause than even the race winner showcases the importance of being charismatic against being critical all the time, which is turning out to be the hallmark of current crop of riders.
Not so long ago did Rossi quip there’s no need to worry about being off the pace as long as the reason is known. His pace by far and qualifying position in Silverstone this weekend means he might start turning skeptical about subscribing to his own view as even the legendary duo of Rossi-Burgess couldn’t iron out the issues pertaining to corner entry. Rossi underwent a nightmarish British GP by recording largest ever gap between him and pole sitter, something that has turned the situation grave at the Italian garage. The Ducati seems to be a harder nut to crack than initially thought but if Rossi can’t tide over the problem, who else can? But going by the magnitude of problems the Ducati currently poses, chances are high Rossi might end up doing what was originally feared by Ducatisti – create another M1 out of the Desmosedici, something that’ll be keenly watched by everyone as Rossi and Burgess had already allayed fears by dismissing such notion.
It was unequivocally a bad hair day for factory Yamaha as both their riders crashed their bikes in a space of three corners partially instilling fear in the garage. A one-two finish for Repsol Honda made things look even worse for them. 2011 was expected to belong to Honda especially this year being the last chance to win the 800cc crown, failing which could tarnish their rich GP history of success stories. Honda has designed its plot clearly – hire the best riders and build the best bike – with which Honda should comfortably win back the crown although a clearer picture should emerge through the final phase of the season if Honda’s right in expanding its factory line-up.
Fresh after recording a best finish of seventh last week at Catalunya, home favourite Crutchlow was bullish about his chances on British soil, something that ended in tatters after he broke his collar bone in a crash during qualifying. It’s a pain to let go of a home race like this. Let’s hope Crutchlow doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Toseland whose Motogp career kicked off to a promising start, which later came to a halt owing to a nasty run of injuries.
Hayden rubbed salt into Rossi’s wounds by engaging in a hunt for a rostrum finish and also posting the fastest lap of the race, a feat that was significantly aided by his pursuit of his countryman Edwards. Hayden’s pace meant Rossi had clearly been unable to tap the available potential of the Desmosedici let alone making it better. Reduced grid size increased the chance to win vital points, an opportunity which was seized by both hands by the satellite teams. Bautista, too, recorded his best finish of the season with a fifth place, also his best finish in top class till date. Others’ results looked better that they really are and it was pathetic to see the Stoner lap Randy De Puniet and Hector Barbera on the satellite Ducatis, a scene we rarely witnessed in the recent times.
Motogp heads to the citadel of racing Assen in two weeks’ time. Stoner would be hoping to carry on with winning momentum. It’s also time Lorenzo revised his weekend plans from podium to victory without which the last few races might lose their significance. Spies and Simoncelli, most eligible aliens-to-be, need to take cues from their team mates and got to up their pace at least to break the duopoly of Lorenzo and Stoner. Rossi looked rather ordinary this weekend and the lean phase he’s undergoing has got to be unnerving. But with Assen next in the calendar, one can’t help thinking of Rossi’s storming ride from eleventh to first in 2007. Eager as ever, expecting the Doctor to cure the ailing Ducati soon.