Legends Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner allowed Casey Stoner to be photographed with them. Mick said “Jeez, the fella was whining so much, i thought someone had lost a little girl and she’d found her way into the pit area. We let him have the photo just to shut him up. Flamin Gallah!”
What an odd weekend at Phillip Island… Stoner being categorised as a MotoGP ‘legend’ caused much debate, then, the usual 27 lap race was shortened to 19 laps due to tyre degradation fears (internal heat issues), and with that, it was also deemed that the riders could do no more than 10 laps on a rear tyre.
I dont see the problem, that tyre’s good. They clearly haven’t tried running a full season of Desmodue on just one set of tyres…
That meant a pit stop on either lap 9 or 10. No exceptions. This was a blanket rule to all – pit in on lap 9 or 10.
This is unusual in the world of motorcycle racing – except endurance, where pit stops are truly something to behold. But the pit stop would be like it would for a rain issue, bike swap.
Teams were practising their stops, Marc Marquez seemed the slickest. I was holding out hoping for rain to really throw a spanner in the works! Dry, race 9 or 10 laps on slicks, pit, swap bikes to another slick shod bike, rain, pit, change bike for a wet prepped bike – oh wait! there isnt one! Unfortunately the rain held off until the closing stages of the last lap.
And it would seem that the mighty Honda, for all the millions that they invest in their MotoGP development, couldn’t spare a few quid for someone that could count to 10 successfully… (Hint: I can count to 10, I’m cheap). The 3 leaders, the usual suspects of JL, MM and DP, started making their stops, with MiniP coming in at the end of lap 9, Jorge coming in at the end of lap 10 and practically leaping to Motegi for the next round, and MM coming in at the end of lap 11.
Wait, whats that? Lap 11, you say?
Oh yes… All aboard the failboat. It was hard to tell if the tyre life of 10 laps was incredibly accurate or not, because although MM was sliding around all over the place during lap 11, it didnt seem to upset his usual ‘sliding around all over the place’ style.
So after a slick bike swap, and rejoining the race, and a little coming together with JL as they showed each other some love… MM was back on track in 3rd. DP got a penalty for not slowing soon enough in the pits, he had to yield one place. He dutifully let (?) MM past and accepted 3rd. MM then got disqualified. Because DP had yielded the place before MM was officially DQ’d, he moved up to 2nd and kept 2nd.
The real racing was slightly further back, the battle for 3rd, 4th & 5th, or 5th, 6th & 7th; depending on your counting skills. Maybe they were battling for 2nd? Nobody knew! It was like a podium lottery, and everyone had a ticket! VR, CC and AB all having a pop for that 2nd, no, 3rd, who knows?!
What has that done to the championship?
Well, actually its made it interesting again. The Marc Marquez road show of domination has had to pause momentarily. Will the pressure get to him? 2 races left, and his lead has been cut to 18 points. JL is now a seasoned MotoGP racer with a head on his shoulders, MM is the young upstart who, although an amazing talent, perhaps sometimes leaves his brain in a box in his motorhome…
Personally, i’d like to see longer races, with a pit stop (not just for rain) just to add a bit of spice!
PS. Honda – I was serious… i can count and i’m cheap! Make a good cuppa too…