2010 Season Thoughts

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2010 Season Thoughts

Post by Henrik on Tue Nov 09 2010, 13:14

So the 2010 season has been wrapped up, and we are left with a clean sweep by the Spanish riders. Not only that, the runner up spots for all three categories are taken by Spaniards! I haven’t checked the history books to see if any nation has ever dominated to that extent in the past, but I would expect not. This is hardly a surprise though for anybody who has followed the sport over the past few years, as Spain is by far the country that invests the most in developing its young talents. With the exception of Italy which still has a fairly good training ground for motorcycling, riders from the rest of Europe end up racing in the Spanish domestic classes as part of their learning on the way up to the World Championship.

Other than showing how strong Spain has become within the sport, this is probably more a sign of how weak the other nations have become. Italy has always been a huge force to recon with in Grand Prix racing, most recently with Rossi. However today there does not seem to be too many to follow in his footsteps. The only one that seems to stand out is Iannone in Moto2, but other than him there is not much there. This is obviously a dangerous development as it will make sponsor money all the more difficult to obtain for riders. Other markets than Spain will be less and less interested in putting money in the sport as there are no riders form their country present. There will always be an exception to the rule, but it is clear looking at the rider names; today it is Spain against the rest of the world.

I suppose there is an exception that can be seen in the UK. Driven by its own strong domestic championship in superbikes, as well as its historic road races with superbikes, the world superbike series has become full of Brits. Half the field at least seems to come straight from the BSB, and the riding level is generally very high. Yet hardly any of these riders make it over to the GPs. Toseland was one exception and now there is Crutchlow. Still, that is not much to show for their talent.

But back to the Grand Prix season we have just seen. MotoGP has been dominated by Lorenzo. There are those who will say that if Rossi had not been injured, he may not have won and so his victory is hollow. I say bullshit! Lorenzo has been amazing all year, and has hardly made any mistakes. He has accumulated more points in one season than anybody, beating Rossi’s record. His level of confidence has been at least has high as that of Stoner in 2007, and his riding style just seems to work so well with the smooth Yamaha 800cc. He has maintained the 250cc style with high corner speeds, and has been so smooth. Most of the others have had a more aggressive style coming off from the 990cc bikes (and also the 500cc two strokes). It is easy to see in the trajectories where a Rossi will turn in late and come out hard on the gas, whereas Lorenzo turns in sooner, keeping a higher speed through the corner but going wide on the exit. Chances are that Lorenzo will maintain his supremacy in 2011, but when they go back to 1000cc in 2012 it may be a different story.

What has been missing in MotoGP are close fights between the riders. Far too often it has been the case of the top riders being evenly spaced after a few laps, keeping that position until the end of the race. Valencia was a bit of an exception, providing some seriously good stuff, but even there the gaps ended up being established after a while. I suppose there has also been the occasional fight between Lorenzo and Rossi, such as in Japan.

Certainly Moto2 has not been missing any excitement, and the Valencia race was just one more of the fabulous races we have been seeing all season. I know at the end of last year, many had their doubts as to the success of Moto2. Sure, they would all be racing CBR600 engines, and even with the exotic chassis, the bikes would likely be slower than supersports. No matter, with costs coming somewhat under control, and no bike being able to dominate, we have had huge starting grids and pretty much anybody could win a race. With over 40 bikes on the grid, a good rider could win starting from the back row! For sure there has been a small group of riders topping the charts, with Elias winning the title and Simon and Iannone following behind. But there have been so many riders in a position to win, and so many fights for the lead. And the fights have been all across the field as well.

I would say Moto2 turned out to be a huge success, if it wasn’t for the death of Tomizawa. He was a young promising rider, who fell victim to the dangers of motorcycle racing. One can’t blame Moto2 for what happened, and it wasn’t a result of a grid being too big. It was bad luck. As unfortunate as it is, this does happen, and it will happen again as long as people race bikes.

With the 250cc gone this year, the last of the two strokes has been the 125cc. They will still be around for next year, but with the announcement of Moto3 replacing them, by 2012 there will be no more two strokes at all. It is sad in that ultimately a two stroke engine is mechanically so much simpler than a four stroke, and so they should be much cheaper to race. Unfortunately ecological concerns have managed to get two strokes off the roads, and so there is just no interest for a manufacturer to continue producing them. In the past there have been several brands fighting for the title, but now there is really only Aprilia left (even though they market their engines under two names). The bikes have become too exclusive and ultimately too expensive if you want to be competitive.

In the past, I have been a huge supporter of the 125cc class, especially because it was always here that you would see the best fights, and it was here you could discover the champions of the future. No doubt the latter remains true, and you can expect to see Marc Marquez continue on to greatness, but Moto2 has been able to provide even better racing. As a result, I have started to miss more and more of the 125cc races this year, and I think that might be the case even more next year. We will see how my interest evolves with the arrival of Moto3, but I think I will be back to watch that.

So, looking at the success of Moto2, one would have thought they would apply the same formula for Moto3. Unfortunately that is not the case, since they will not be imposing a single engine. Instead they have attempted to curb the costs by setting a spending cap on the engine development. I am not sure that is a good thing, even though I understand the desire to see more than one manufacturer getting involved. Chances are that they will soon apply this formula to Moto2 as well, I just hope it will not mess things up.

So what about the future of MotoGP? The shuffle of the riders that is taking place is sure to bring some fresh interest. Rossi going to Ducati is simply huge. It is obvious that the Ducati is not a bad bike, and together with his team of engineers led by Burgess, I have no doubt that he will ensure it becomes the winner he needs. As a by-product of this, it is likely that the bike will become better in general, and probably a bit less exclusive than what it has been in the past. It is only Stoner that has been able to win on it, but starting from next year I really expect to see Nicky regularly on a podium, with the Pramac bikes also dicing it up in the top 10 on a very regular basis.

Stoner going to Honda is also a huge event. Even if there are many that do not like the Aussie, there is no doubt that he is incredibly fast. The Honda this year has shown us that it is easily the fastest bike on the grid, and the combination of the two is likely to be awesome. Perhaps finally Honda has understood that they can’t continue to listen to Puig and build a bike only for Pedrosa, and this will give us a very strong group of Hondas. Stoner and Pedrosa are obviously top riders, Dovi is struggling a bit but has the talent, and Simoncelli has finished his rookie year and will certainly be a contender next year.

Over at Yamaha, they will be starting the 2011 season on a high. However Lorenzo will have to prove that he really can continue to develop the bike and not rely on the work produced by Rossi and his team. I honestly think he will succeed in this, especially because he has a very different riding style to Rossi. Also, they may be losing Rossi, but they are getting The Ben on the factory bike. He has lived up to the very high expectations placed in him this year on the Tech 3 bike, totally dominating his much more experienced team mate Colin. He’s managed two podiums and has more often than not been just off it in 4th. Being a rookie on a non-factory bike that is truly an amazing result, and his final placing as 6th overall ensures that he is very comfortably the rookie of the year. Not only that, but he is also the top non-factory racer, even finishing ahead of Nicky Hayden on the factory Ducati. Through his superbike career he has proven that he can take the fight to anybody, is a pure racer who is totally immune to any sort of pressure or mind games. Lorenzo may have though it was difficult going up against Rossi as his team mate, and expects 2011 to be a bit easier in that respect as he is now the top dog. If that is the case, he better think again!

As much as I am hopeful for an exciting 2011, you have to face the reality that there will only really be 7 riders/bikes with any hope of making it regularly on the podium. The other half of the grid, and how sad is it that the grid is maybe a total of 15 bikes, really has no hope. The Suzukis, in spite of being full on factory bikes, simply are nowhere. The Pramac Ducatis have never really gotten near a podium even though they might get a bit closer next year as the Ducati becomes easier to ride. The Tech 3 Yamahas have never been close either, if it wasn’t for Ben Spies, and since he will be on the factory bike next year. I suppose only the Hondas have been generally a bit more competitive, but still only knocking on the door for the podium.

So there you have it! Now we just have to wait through the winter, keeping an eye on how the riders are doing on their new bikes in testing, until they all line up again at Qatar in 2011.

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Re: 2010 Season Thoughts

Post by TopContender on Wed Nov 10 2010, 01:20

Can yup guys explain the difference between the "big bang" and "screamer" engines? I guess Rossi tested both, and used the big bang technology last year.
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Re: 2010 Season Thoughts

Post by PLAYLIFE on Wed Nov 10 2010, 05:22

In the 50s the Italians did the 500-250-125cc championships but there was still the 350s which they didn't win. So yes 500-250-125 has been done before but not a 'clean sweep' of categories.

The Italians have done 2 categories countless times in the last two decades but never all three.
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Re: 2010 Season Thoughts

Post by Henrik on Wed Nov 10 2010, 22:02

Thanks Playlife. I figured if anything the Italians might have pulkled it off. Still, things were a bit different back then (and I wasn't watching yet either...)

TC, it has to do with the ignition of the engine. With a big bang they have the cylinders firing at the same time, providing more torque. A screamer on the other hand is an evenly spaced firing order (this is very simplified!). Generally the big bangs are considered easier to control.

This is something that has been done for a long time. Back in the day, they would turn twins in to big bangs and called them twingles.

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