Showing posts with label honda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label honda. Show all posts

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Track - Austin MotoGP

 March pre-season testing set the scene for the inaugural Austin MotoGP.  That the Repsol Hondas and Stefan Bradl lead the way over the factory Yamahas was not a surprise.  What was a surprise was that it was rookie Marc Marquez who topped the timesheets, not his 7th MotoGP season veteran Dani Pedrosa.  While Marquez played down his pace, in deference to the then team leader Pedrosa it was an ominous sign of what was to come.

The Circuit of the Americas is a strange track.  Fast sweeping corners and serious elevation changes make for a great TV spectacle, however most riders complain that despite its aesthetic beauty it does not flow properly, making it difficult to find the right lines and tiring to ride.  Unlike truly flowing tracks like Phillip Island, corner exits do not naturally lead to the next corner entry, making the right line difficult to find.  But it's the number of first gear corners (something like 40% of the lap is spent in first) that gives the natural advantage to the Hondas.  It was always up against Yamaha to overcome the hp and seamless shift transmission deficit.

Fast forward to qualifying and Marquez once again stole the limelight.  Pole for the 20 year old ahead of Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Crutchlow made him the youngest pole sitter in 500GP/MotoGP history.  Marquez did his best to tone down the hype but the prospect of eclipsing Freddie Spencer's record (youngest premier class winner) was the sole topic of conversation amongst the press and paddock.  With the natural advantages held by the Honda's, Sunday was looming as a two way shootout between the Spanish Repsol twins.

While Qatar had a metronomic leader disappearing ahead of an intense battle for second, Austin had an epic battle for the lead followed by relatively lonely rides for those behind.  A split tyre strategy where Marquez backed himself on the harder tyre posed more questions than answers early in the race.  Pedrosa did what was necessary, leading into turn 1 and was relentlessly stalked by Marquez, as in Qatar biding his time, waiting for his time to strike.  Try as he might, Lorenzo's inch perfect laps could not close the gap, although the differential was less than many expected.  Behind, Crutchlow put in his most impressive ride in MotoGP, challenging Lorenzo until a mistake put him off the track and into the pack with Bradl, Rossi and Bautista.  Impressively, however, as quickly as he was in the dogfight, he had cleared off again into a lonely ride for fourth.

Speaking of Rossi, after his Qatar heroics I was expecting him to charge the through pack and be competitive with Lorenzo (or at least Crutchlow).  But the Doctor had no remedy for a lack of confidence at a track with which he struggled to get to grips (and brakes) with.  Rossi revealed he lost a chunk of his brake disc after the race, but it is unlikey he would have challenged even without the problem
 So back to the main show.  After losing the lead into the first turn, Marquez held station behind his team mate, waiting for his opportunity to make the move back.  At no stage was Pedrosa able to pull a gap, despite being on the medium rear tyre, versus Marquez on the harder option.  As in Qatar, it was only a matter of time befor Marquez shoved it up the inside on lap 13, and try as he might, Pedrosa struggled to keep tabs.  Riding at 11/10ths, he made a mistake with a couple of laps to go, fulfilling Marquez's destiny to break both of Freddie's record in one weekend.

On the in lap, the congratulations from the entire field showcased the arrival of the next era of MotoGP.  Rossi, in particular, made a special effort to congratulate him.  Greatness recognises greatness.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Track - MotoGP Qatar

The pre season posed more questions than answers.  Would this be Pedrosa's year?  Will Rossi be able to recapture his previous powers?  Will Lorenzo make a mistake?  Will Marquez be able to step into the shoes of Stoner?  Will Ducati find hope?

A new F1 style qualifying format lead to a 'Q2' field that was much as expected, however the new format caught up a number of the big names.  Lorenzo on pole was not a surprise, but Crutchlow in second definitely was.  You get the sense that the indignation of not having full factory support is worth at least 3 or 4 tenths for Cal.  Dovi in fourth was a ray of sunshine for Ducati, made all the more impressive by beating Marquez in 6th and Rossi in 7th.

So 2 of the big 4 were outside the top 5.  When the race started, it was really a tale of 2 fields.  One was the sole realm of Lorenzo, who disappeared from pole and was never seen again.  His metronomic times are now the stuff of legend, but it was so effective that we barely saw Lorenzo on the coverage.

The second field was a cracker.  Watching Lorenzo disappear, Pedrosa focused on keeping his rookie team mate and Crutchlow behind.  Rossi started well, tailing Pedrosa but overcooked his corner entry on lap 3, bending his brake lever protector and running off track.  The next 10 laps seemed to be a fight for second between the Repsols and Crutchlow.  Marquez surprised many with his controlled aggression, keeping his trademark bruising style in check. 

The apparent strengths and weaknesses of the Hondas vs. Yamahas persist into 2013.  The sweet mid corner handling of the Yamaha that Rossi has craved for the past 2 years interplayed with the much stronger drive from the Honda seamless shift transmission and higher engine power.  No where was this more apparent that in the mid race battle between Crutchlow and the Repsol twins.  Working his backside off to close up on the back of the Hondas, Crutchlow was powerless to fight their straight line speed.

Having had to battle with Bradl and Dovi after his early off, Rossi started to come into the frame with 10 laps to go.  Chipping away a gap of about 5 seconds to Crutchlow, Rossi displayed an ability to rattle off fast laps that we have not seen since the failed Ducati experiment started.  The collective motorcycling world held its breath as the Rossi of old (rather than the impostor wearing his leathers that we ahve seen for the past 2 years) reappeared.  Consistently reducing the gap to the Repsol/Cruthlow trio by 0.5secs per lap, Rossi caught the battle for the podium with 5 laps to go.  As Marquez finally moved on Pedrosa, Rossi used the carrot of watching Marquez disappearing to pass Crutchlow on the straight and then home in on Pedrosa.  Rossi achieved what Crutchlow couldn't, finding a gap up the inside of Pedrosa setting a scene for a showdown between the old school and the very new school.

Of all the riders in the current paddock, Rossi has been the most complimentary of Marquez.  He sees a lot of himself in the rookie, who has truly stunned the GP paddock with the ease he has adapted his small frame to the complexities and brutality of the 1000cc machines.  Watching them dice for the last 3 laps was the most excitement we've seen since Lorenzo first entered the class.  All credit to Marquez, despite being passed with 3 laps to go, he refused to be intimidated and regained second place briefly.  The old man would have been impressed, but stamped his authority 2 corners later and was not to be caught.  Realising that a podium on debut ahead of his team mate was at astake, Marquez kept his head to take 3rd.

What a race!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Track - Sepang Test II wrap up

It's always a trap to read too much into test times.  Set up changes, race simulations, tyre testing and weather conditions play a huge part in determining the final order.  The second MotoGP Sepang test was subject to all of these, but we can see a few trends emerging:

-The fight at the front will be once again Repsol Honda vs. Factory Yamaha
-Marquez is a freak and has gotten to grips with the machine very quickly, his comments that the other big three are in a different race are just for expectation management
-Pedrosa is not going to have it all his way, he could be easily upstaged as Marquez rapidly goes up the learning curve
-Rossi will fight for podiums and occasionally wins, but Lorenzo clearly has his measure at this stage as shown by his race simulation 
-Cal Crutchlow is a podium contender, however the amount of support he gets from the factory could impede his raw speed
-Ducati are still in the doldrums
-The gaps between prototypes and CRTs remain staggering if you remove the Ducati's who are battling with the fastest of the CRTs
Pedrosa looks to be very comfortable without Stoner to chase
Marquez is up to speed with the machine already, imagine what it'll look like after another 2 tests!
Lorenzo's race pace puts him squarely in the mix
Crutchlow will be glad he missed out on the Ducati ride
Rossi shows decent pace, but not enough to reel in Lorenzo
Overall Results from all Three Days of MotoGP’s Second Test at Sepang, Malaysia:
199Jorge LorenzoYamaha2:00.282 - -Day 2
226Dani PedrosaHonda2:00.5620.2800.280Day 3
393Marc MarquezHonda2:00.6430.3610.081Day 3
435Cal CrutchlowYamaha2:00.9070.6250.264Day 2
546Valentino RossiYamaha2:01.0620.7800.155Day 3
619Alvaro BautistaHonda2:01.0780.7960.016Day 3
76Stefan BradlHonda2:01.3091.0270.231Day 3
84Andrea DoviziosoDucati2:01.6501.3680.341Day 3
969Nicky HaydenDucati2:01.7781.4960.128Day 2
1038Bradley SmithYamaha2:02.0231.7410.245Day 2
1129Andrea IannoneDucati2:02.5662.2840.543Day 3
1251Michele PirroDucati Test2:02.7732.4910.207Day 3
1314Randy de PunietAprilia ART2:02.8632.5810.090Day 3
1441Aleix EspargaroAprilia ART2:02.9052.6230.042Day 2
15T2Katsayuki NakasugaYamaha Test2:02.9462.6640.041Day 2
1611Ben SpiesDucati2:03.0552.7730.109Day 3
178Hector BarberaFTR Kawasaki2:03.1552.8730.100Day 3
18T1Wataru YoshikawaYamaha Test2:03.2572.9750.102Day 3
197Hiroshi AoyamaFTR Kawasaki2:03.9903.7080.733Day 2
2017Karel AbrahamAprilia ART2:04.0663.7840.076Day 3
215Colin EdwardsFTR Kawasaki2:04.1023.8200.036Day 3
229Danilo PetrucciSuter BMW2:04.2793.9970.177Day 2
2337Takumi TakahashiHonda Test2:04.5124.2300.233Day 2
2470Michael LavertyPBM Aprilia2:04.5464.2640.034Day 3
2568Yonny HernandezAprilia ART2:04.6714.3890.125Day 2
2652Lukas PesekSuter BMW2:04.6744.3920.003Day 3
2771Claudio CortiFTR Kawasaki2:04.7094.4270.035Day 2
2867Bryan StaringFTR Honda2:05.3135.0310.604Day 3

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

TRACK IS BACK! WSBK Round 1 Phillip Island

The start of any new motorsport season is exciting, but we at RTD are lucky to be based in Australia where we have the first round of the WSBK each year at Phillip Island.  Now an annual pilgramage for the three of us, we had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, amazing weather, the Pirelli sponsored wildlife and of course the close racing.  

Bikes on the grid for Race 1

Ready to go
Pirelli's R&D department
Race 1

Sylvain Guintoli leads the field through turn 1

Sylvain Guintoli made the perfect start to his Aprilia career by edging out his team mate Eugene Laverty to win Race 1.  Starting from sixth on the grid, he carved up the field and moved into the lead on lap 15 to take his fourth victory.  

The early running had Sykes, Checa, Laverty and Melandri vying for the lead, but each had their specific issues that gave Guinters the opportunity to pick his way through.  Sykes, in typical Kawasaki fashion, was fast straight away, leading the field into turn 1 but faded as the race went on.  Laverty seemed to be the man to beat, building up a sizable gap to Checa/Melandri behind by a third race distance.  Soon Guintoli passed the Ducati/BMW battle and set off after his team mate.  

Melandri, looking strong, was ploughed into by Checa in turn 4, with both riders out of the race.  Checa’s landing looked particularly nasty, and he was concussed for the second time this weekend.  Special mention to Melandri, who win’s the RTD ‘good guy of the weekend award’ for running straight to Checa’s aid when he realised his rival was hurt.  

On lap 15, Guintoli made the definitive pass on his team mate, and never looked back.  It’s been an amazing turnaround for the will liked Frenchman, who has gone from not having a ride after splitting with Effenbert Ducati mid last season, to being a race winner on a world champion bike.  

Also worth mentioning the performance of Michel Fabrizio, who was the fastest man on Friday and much of Saturday.  The satellite Aprilia rider was right there at the end, taking the final podium position just .07s behind Laverty in a tight drag to the line.  

Race 1 Results
1. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia Racing RSV4 33m 47.109s
2. Eugene Laverty IRL Aprilia Racing RSV4 +1.352s
3. Michel Fabrizio ITA Red Devils Roma RSV4 +1.359s
4. Chaz Davies GBR BMW GoldBet S1000RR HP4 +5.702s
5. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +5.753s
6. Loris Baz FRA Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +6.769s
7. Leon Haslam GBR Pata Honda CBR1000RR +6.830s
8. Jonathan Rea GBR Pata Honda CBR1000RR +17.944s
9. Leon Camier GBR Fixi Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +19.152s
10. Max Neukirchner GER MR Ducati 1199 R +26.557s
11. Jules Cluzel FRA Fixi Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +30.305s
12. Ivan Clementi ITA HTM Racing BMW S1000RR +30.411s
13. Alexander Lundh SWE Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +45.185s
14. Glenn Allerton AUS Next Gen BMW S1000RR +48.632s
15. Jamie Stauffer AUS Honda Racing CBR1000RR +53.453s
16. Federico Sandi ITA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 22.730s
17. Vittorio Iannuzzo ITA Grillini Dentalmatic BMW S1000RR +4 laps

Not Classified
18. Carlos Checa ESP Alstare Ducati 1199 R 12 laps completed
19. Marco Melandri ITA BMW GoldBet S1000RR HP4 12 laps completed
20. Davide Giugliano ITA Althea Racing RSV4 2 laps completed

Did Not Start
Ayrton Badovini ITA Alstare Ducati 1199 R  

Race 2

Laverty denies his team mate the double

In Race 2, Aprilia again too maximum points with a 1-2 finish, but this time Eugene Laverty got the best of his team mate in a reversal of Race 1 fortunes.

With pole sitter Carlos Checa air lifted to hospital after his race 1 crash, the entire grid was elevated a spot, giving Laverty pole in race 2.   Again, Tom Sykes lead the field into turn 1 but this time faded even faster, with both Laverty and Guintoli past by lap 2.  

As a classic block passing spot, MG corner usually sees some hairy moments in the opening laps and Race 2 was no exception.  Chaz Davies, having a miserable weekend with his new BMW, punted Loris Baz off which earned him a punctured rear tyre and a penalty from the stewards.  

With Guintoli leading the way from Laverty, the two enjoyed a decent margin over Melandri, Fabrizio, Giugliano and Cluzel.  Melandri managed to chip away at the Aprilias but could not manage to overcome the hp deficit on the long Gardner straight to pass either of them. 

This status quo was broken on lap 16 when Melandri pulled off a spectacular pass on Laverty at MG, which gave Guintoli some breathing space over them.  A patient Laverty stalked Melandri up to lap 20 and then pulled off a classic overtake at Honda Corner.  He then set the new lap record to claw the gap back to his team mate and passed him into turn one on the penultimate lap. 

Laverty maintained the rage, and completed the perfect weekend for Aprilia by taking his fourth victory.  Melandri was third. 

Race 2 Results
1. Eugene Laverty IRL Aprilia Racing RSV4 33m 45.938s
2. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia Racing RSV4 +0.418s
3. Marco Melandri ITA BMW GoldBet S1000RR HP4 +1.382s
4. Michel Fabrizio ITA Red Devils Roma RSV4 +2.282s
5. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +11.545s
6. Davide Giugliano ITA Althea Racing RSV4 +12.508s
7. Jules Cluzel FRA Fixi Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +17.330s
8. Jonathan Rea GBR Pata Honda CBR1000RR +17.339s
9. Leon Camier GBR Fixi Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +19.886s
10. Leon Haslam GBR Pata Honda CBR1000RR +19.996s
11. Max Neukirchner GER MR Ducati 1199 R +27.629s
12. Glenn Allerton AUS Next Gen BMW S1000RR +42.809s
13. Jamie Stauffer AUS Honda Racing CBR1000RR +42.893s
14. Federico Sandi ITA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +44.899s
15. Alexander Lundh SWE Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +57.824

16. Vittorio Iannuzzo ITA Grillini Dentalmatic BMW S1000RR +1m 22.574s
17. Chaz Davies GBR BMW GoldBet S1000RR HP4 +2 laps

Not Classified
18. Ivan Clementi ITA HTM Racing BMW S1000RR 11 laps completed
19. Loris Baz FRA Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 0 laps completed

Did Not Start
Carlos Checa ESP Alstare Ducati 1199 R
Ayrton Badovini ITA Alstare Ducati 1199 R

Friday, 31 August 2012

Track - MotoGP Brno

This race was always going to be missing something with Nicky Hayden out and Casey Stoner having to fly back to Australia to get his broken ankle operated on.  Having said that, this ended up being a predicatable battle of the Spaniards, with the lesser favoured rider taking a great race win after an epic battle.

After binning his bike during qualifying, Pedrosa made a strong start from third and tried to open an early lead over Lorenzo.  Lorenzo tailgated Pedrosa for most of the race, testing Pedrosa's weak points and plotting an attack.  The attack came with a surprise inside dive with 3 corners to go.  Pedrosa, who was faster over the faster parts fo the circuits used this power to pass and outbrake Lorenzo, holding the lead to the finish line for what he called 'one of my best ever races'. 

In a theme for the weekend across WSBK and MotoGP, Cal Crutchlow celebrated his contract extension with Tech 3 with his first podium. 

With Stoner in recovery, the championship battle is a two horse race with Lorenzo 245 points leading Pedrosa's 232 points. 

Track - WSBK Moscow Race 2

In contrast to Race 1, Race 2 was held in dry conditions which saw all runners start on slicks.  The ducati's decided to run the softer compound, which ended up being a mistake and compounded a miserable weekend for the Italian marque.

Tom Sykes seemed to check out the front very early, with a chase group of Melandri, Haslam, Biaggi, Rea and Laverty following.  That was until Biaggi, using the his Aprilia missile to good effect to get pass Rea on the back straight but the manouvre compromised his corner entry and he punted into the back of a helpless Haslam.

With Biaggi and Haslam off to the medical centre to get checked out, Melandri set about closing down Sykes, closing up on him quickly and taking the lead. 

The battle for second went down to the wire, with the fading Sykes trying to hold of Rea and the charging Laverty.  The drama continued to the end, with Laverty high siding on the last lap on turn 14, taking out Rea.  Checa had to take evasive action, promoting Davies to the podium wth Checa finishing behind in fourth.

Melandri's win promotes him to the head of the champions with 308.5 points to Biaggi 290 and Sykes 267.5  

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Track - It's official, Ducati and Yamaha swap Italians

So the silly season for factory bikes is over.  Ducati announced that Andrea Dovisioso would take Valentino Rossi's seat next year, having signed a contract until 2014.  The likely candidate for this ride has changed from Rossi staying, to Dovi's team mate Crutchlow, and finally to Dovi.  The irony of the situation is that Dovi had moved to Yamaha Tech 3 with the hopes to move up to Spies' seat in the Factory team.  With Spies quitting Yamaha, it seemed that the plan was falling into place, however Rossi's desire to get on a competitive bike asap blocked this path for Dovi.  Crutchlow 'The Honey Badger' has been speaking publically about the verbal offer he had from Ducati for a long time and will be dismayed by the way he has been strung along and ultimately dumped in favour of his team mate.

So Dovi is now back in a factory team, but the underperforming one.  The Ducati has been a career killer for all but Stoner so it is a brave move, however Dovi will be hoping that new Audi money and technology will fast track the development of the bike.

So confirmed riders for 2013 prototype bikes are now:

Factory Yamaha Racing: Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi
Repsol Honda: Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez
Ducati Team: Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovisioso
LCR Honda: Stefan Bradl
Tech 3 Yamaha: Bradley Smith
Cardion Ducati: Karel Abraham

The key riders looking for a ride are now Cal Crutchlow (who you would think would stay with Tech 3), Ben Spies (Could return with Suzuki to MotoGP or go to WSBK with BMW), Hector Barbera (who is currently injured) and Alvaro Bautista (talk is that his ride at Gresini is at risk).

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Track - Indy MotoGP

I'm going to start this review by ranting a bit about the existence of the Indy GP weekend.  Firstly, it has to be acknowledged that in general, the fans, media and mechanics love the facilities and the history of the track.  However, the riders have consistently rated it as one of the tracks that they truly could care less for and the reasons are multiple.