We’re already in full swing with bike racing having already completing three rounds in MotoGP and WSBK, not to mention BSB also got going last weekend. So here’s a short summary of what has happened so far in the world of MotoGP.
Going on results and points so far you would be forgiven for thinking you had a clear picture of who is in contention for the 2016 championship after three rounds. But the results give far from an accurate representation of what is actually going on. The main reason for this appears to be riders and teams trying to adapt to the new tyres and controlled electronics and finding a reliable base setting for each track. With Lorenzo, Rossi and Marquez all experiencing crashes which cost both Yamaha riders a DNF, the changes are clearly significant. Riders have reported the Michelins are very unforgiving and the smallest of mistakes can cost a race finish. Considering every track has it’s own characteristics, it’s like a continuous test for riders and teams whereby they’re having to adapt all the time. It may seem surprising initially to learn how well Ducati have incorporated the changes, as again the results do not reflect this. Dovizioso for example has been incredibly unfortunate to have suffered two DNF’s during potential podium finishing races, neither of which were in any way his fault. Further pressure is on the Ducati riders with rumours suggesting Lorenzo has already made a verbal deal with Ducati to join team red next year, effectively leaving a single factory seat for Dovizioso and Iannone to fight over.
With all eye being on the top three riders let’s have a quick how each have performed so far…
Although Marquez was struggling with grip issues early on in the season with many speculating a repeat of last year, he has completely changed things around with a dominant presence, reminiscent of his 2013 and 2014 performances. Many are surprised at this given the more ‘delicate’ nature offered by the Michelins, compared to the Bridgestones, which seemingly do not favour the Spaniard’s aggressive riding style. Marques himself has admitted his surprise given that he spent some serious time during the winter adapting his riding style to the new rubber, only to now revert back to his original style. One would be forgiven for thinking he already has this championship in the bag giving his blistering pace across practices, qualifying sessions and races. But then it only takes a track for the Honda to struggle on, which could lead to the field being opened right back up. However, for now the results quite accurately place him at the number one spot with 66 points following two race wins.
Upon careful analysis so far the 9-time world champion Valentino Rossi seems very comfortable with this year’s new tyres and electronics. His race crash in Texas last weekend causing him his first DNF in nearly two years was highly uncharacteristic, and gives us another example of how different riders are finding the Michelins. With no warning and opportunity to rescue the loss of front end grip, the crash was an excellent example of how accurate the riders must be over race distance on these tyres. “You make a small mistake, you pay” Rossi stated about his crash after the race. Rossi’s crash was also very similar to those of Marquez and Lorenzo back at the last round in Argentina. Crash aside, Rossi is looking and feeling strong with highly valid reasons for him not competing at the front so far. For example, if it wasn’t for the mandatory bike/tyre change stop in Argentina which saw Rossi suffer with less grip on his second bike (but Marquez experiencing the opposite), Rossi looked fastest and sure to take the race win. Rossi is currently third in the standings on 33 points.
A premature exit from the #AmericasGP for #VR46. Fortunately, he's OK despite the quick crash. https://t.co/4WMIAsypNr — MotoGP™ (@MotoGP) April 11, 2016
Although the reigning world champion looked exceptionally fast during the first season test it soon became apparent that having a good setup for one track does not mean the tyres will be as easy to adapt to on other curcuits. But as they say ‘the cream rises to the top’, and this is certainly true with Lorenzo who is very much a contender for the championship. Whilst many of his competitors are sliding and smoking their new rubber, Lorenzo just keeps his smooth and almost faultless style, never appearing to force the bike in anyway. His relentless consistency is very much a must this year, but with an already uncharacteristic self inflicted crash causing a DNF in Argentina, can he maintain a consistent result? Lorenzo who won at the season opener Qatar is currently second in the standings with 45 points.
Of course there is a lot more drama that I have not even touched but the season is off to a strong star with no less than all five manufacturers seemingly having the performance to compete at the front. For more info visit Crash.net.
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