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Even if you're a big fan of Valentino Rossi, you'd be hard pressed not to say that the race was kinda boring: Pole, fastest lap, win and led every single lap in the race. A Lorenzo-eque dominant win. Lorenzo blamed rear wheelspin down the straights for not being able to take the victory. It turns out that Rossi and Marquez also had problems with the rears spinning from mid-race. Sam Lowes took an almost equally dominant win: Pole, led from lap 2 to the end to win by ~2.5sec over Folger. Niether Folger nor Alex Rins (2nd and 3rd) had any answer to #SidewaysSam's pace and spectacular style. Zarco had an uncharacteristically bad weekend, but benefited from falling riders (and passing Tom Luthi) to salvage a 5th position at the end. In Moto3 Brad Binder did the seemingly impossible: after being demoted from 2nd on the grid to the rear for using an un-sanctioned ECU map, he still came through to win the race. Teenager Nicolo Bulega (SKY Team VR46) took pole and 2nd place by an audacious but cleanly executed pass of Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Navaro in the final corner. Surely two riders we are going to see more of in the future. Edit: Oh, and Cal Crutchlow actually finished a race, for the first time year. Even picked up championship points too!
OK Ladies and Gentlemen, please raise your hands if you've ever wondered if this thing with "The Aliens" in MotoGP is a recent thing or something we've always seen? Thank you. This only popped up into my mind a couple of weeks ago, and I'm afraid I have too much time on my hands. How possibly else could I come up with digging into data like this? The Aliens - way faster than the rest: But let's back up a few steps. I first heard the term "The Aliens" about 6-8 years ago. "The Aliens" are the top-4 guys (seemingly invariably the Honda and Yamaha Factory riders) that were just that much faster than the rest of the bunch. So just how much better are they at winning than the rest? - crazy much better. The more I look into it, the more my mind is swimming over their dominance. Consider this: the Yamaha & Honda Factory Teams has currently won the last 87 consecutive races together. They have won every single race since Casey Stoner won on a Ducati in 2010 at Twin-Ring Motegi. Yes, Casey won later on an HRC Factory machine, so that counts on the Factory side. Of the current riders, only Nicky Hayden (3 wins) and Andrea Divizioso (1 win) has ever won a MotoGP race, outside the Yamaha/Honda Factory teams. And both of them were on an HRC Factory ride at that time. But I digress... As I said, a couple of weeks time ago I paused to wonder whether this is a new thing in MotoGP. After all, in Rossi, Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa we are seeing some out-of-this-worldy talents. Tonight, I say down with the help of MotoGP.com's statistics function and a bit of spreadsheet work and found myself arriving at a surprising conclusion: No, what we're seeing today is normal. On average, 4.2 riders win a MotoGP/500cc race during a season. Of the 67 seasons, 49 seasons have seen 3-5 riders winning. Only twice have a rider made a clean-sheet and won all racers in a season. Who? Giacomo Agostini. Twice (1959 and 1968). Outliers are seasons like 2000 (7 different winners, title went to Kenny Roberts Jr) and 2006 (6 different winners; Nicky Hayden's championship year), and the decade 1973-1982, where there were 5-6 different winners every year. Moto2/250cc and Moto3/125cc: So what about the smaller classes - how about them? The statistics are clear on this: there is much more fighting going on, with average 7.3 and 6.8 different winners per season in Moto2 and Moto3. Despite Zarco and Kent's dominance of their respective series, there has already been 7 different winners in Moto2 and 6 in Moto3 this year. In Moto2, only Zarco have won more than one race. In Moto3, only Miguel Oliveira have won 2 races (Kent has won 6). Looking back at the data, I rationalize this as due to the Moto3 & Moto2 classes being feeder classes of the best onto the top-dog class: MotoGP. So if you had a really excellent rider in a class, he would invariably be offered a contract in a higher class and therefore move on. So if you want to see some exciting racing and be less sure of who's going to win - MotoGP ain't the race to watch
Wow, what a race and a way to re-open the championship! After the free practice and Qualifying Friday & Saturday, I was totally convinced that Rossi was dead and buried - he was just nowhere as fast as Marquez and Lorenzo. Interesting to see so many falling in the rain (including Jack Miller doing the cardinal sin of taking out his teammate in his fall), and how others just shone in the rain - I'm thinking on Petrucci especially, and Scott Redding. But the 12 points that Rossi has on Lorenzo can quickly go again, so with any luck it's going to go all the way down to the final race in Valencia. And congrats to Danny Kent for his home-soil victory. He's doing so well that he's making it look boring
Today had a very mixed bag of results for the brits: Win in Moto3, 4th place in Moto2, and 5th/DNF in MotoGP. Danny Kent showed why he's the guy to beat in Moto3, by first testing if he could get away from the pack (he could only gain about 0.4sec on a lap, which wasn't enough to avoid the others slipstreaming him down the main straight), then checking that if he was indeed 1st coming out of the final corner, then he wouldn't get passed before the finish line, and then sitting back and waiting for the pen-ultimate lap to pounce from the rear of the lead group (6th place) to slipstream to 1st by Turn 1 on the final lap, and then keep the others from passing him before the chequered flag. Brilliantly done! Sam Lowes had been struggling a bit during the weekend (he seems to been doing that for the last couple of races), but was in the lead trio of riders that got away in the front. Lowes lead the race for a couple of laps in the beginning, before falling back to 3rd place. There, Alex Rins chased him down and passed him. It seemed that Lowes was struggling to keep the pace of Rabat, Rins, and Zarco. Zarco made an audacious move on the final lap to pass Rabat, and Rabat blew it a couple of corners later to allow Rins to pass him. For Cal Crutchlow, the race was quickly over when he got a slight bump on lap 3 by Aleix Espargaro. Out and down he went. But the biggest news of the weekend was probably that the two Suzuki's qualified as one-two. Last time Suzuki qualified 1-2 was in 1983, with Schwantz and Barros. Unfortunately for Suzuki, they got out-dragged by "everyone" from the front line to Turn 1, so they had their work cut out for them. Lorenzo quickly moved to the lead, and only Marquez could follow him. Unfortunately, Marquez completely blew a corner (Turn 10?) on lap 3, and narrowly avoided taking Lorenzo out from behind, before going off track and dropping the bike in the gravel trap. This was a race with a lot of falls - 8 riders would not finish the race. By the time Marquez fell, the race was almost over. Rossi had moved past Dovizioso, but was 1.5s behind Lorenzo and while the gap moved up to just over 2 seconds, Rossi slowly reeled in Lorenzo at the end of the race, but he was only able to cut the lead to 0.88s at the finish line. This was the first time Lorenzo have won 4 consecutive races. Oh, and Rossi only leads the championship by a signle point now. Questions to everyone: - What's up with Marquez? He's had 3 DNFs in 7 races, and he's 69 points down on Rossi. That's a mighty big deficit. - Why couldn't Lorenzo ride that way the first 3 races? What changed from Argentina? - How can Rossi get back at Lorenzo? It seems that he's not qualifying well (OK, he's never been a suberb pole-setter) and his race-launch is not as good as the others, so he's creating work for himself here. I guess that previously he relied on his race-craft to pass the others, but he is now facing a couple of riders (JL and MM) who are able to ride quite as fast as him, and for the full distance. How can or should he compensate?