Another Crackpot MotoGP Theory Validated

I’m pretty sure I told you so. I’m pretty sure I told you that a long lap penalty. or having a last lap waved off for getting in the green, an untimely DNF. Any of these could decide the championship in a race that, in the words of my late Aunt Frannie, is tighter than a tick.

I’d like to think that I called it when I suggested an inverse relationship between the number of DNFs recorded by a rider and his rank in the chase. These top ten YTD standings are current as of 05/21/2022.

Rider                                                Points                                  #DNF

Quartararo                                          102                                       0

A. Espargaro                                         98                                        0

Bastianini                                               94                                       1

Rins                                                       69                                         1

Miller                                                     62                                         2

Zarco                                                      62                                        2

Bagnaia                                                   56                                        2

B. Binder                                                  56                                        1

Mir                                                           56                                         2

M Marquez                                               54                                        2

This illustrates, once again, that, as the expression goes, in order to finish first, one must first finish.

The four riders leading the 2022 chase have averaged, over the first seven rounds, half a DNF, with neither Quartararo nor Aleix haven’t  crashed once. Riders five, six and seven–Miller, Zarco and Bagnaia–have all crashed out of two races, returning us briefly to the days when the Desmo was considered unridable by anyone other than Casey Stoner. In fact, of riders five through eleven, all have crashed out twice other than Brad Binder, whose numbers suggest he is too stubborn to stay down, that he may have remounted once or twice.

The current poster child for this “win or bin” mentality is Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin, with DNFs in four of his first seven. Earlier in the season he looked ready to assume the second chair on the factory Ducati team. Lately, however, Mo Mentum, the famous sixth man in basketball, the 12th man in the Seattle Seahawks’ crazy home field advantage, seems to be smiling on your boy EBas, at the expense of Jack Miller, who would look good in KTM colors. Honda must be sweating  bullets trying to get Mir signed now that PEsp is feeling unwanted. Mir, one supposes, is not looking forward to wrestling the RC213V, at least the 2022 iteration. Neither of the LCR boys, Nakagami nor Little Brother, can ride the Honda. PEsp will have his moments at his tracks but is nothing like consistent. And, if you were a betting man, um, person, who would you rather have a grand on right now–Marquez, with 54 points or Bagnaia with 56.

Interesting that Maverick Vinales has a clean DNF record but only 33 points, suggesting he is not riding the Aprilia hard enough. Much the same could be said about PEsp. Oh, and just for the record I expect Ducati to crush Mugello, lock out the podium, and convince Fabio that his future does not lie with Yamaha, that he’s caught them with the OEM pendulum swinging in the wrong direction. Is this the weekend Zarco finally achieves liftoff speed? Can Marquez continue trying to catch a tow into Q2? Will young EBas continue his poised, efficient efforts to winning a premier class title as a sophomore in the Marquez era, or at least the close of it. Fabio knows he has to remain perfect in order to remain in contention, putting massive pressure on himself. And my boy Aleix is sitting there making it look easy on an Aprilia that finally does what it’s told.

One of the few things I remember from five years of university-level economics is the tendency of large numbers to regress to the mean, all things being equal, which they never are. In the immediate case, as is almost always the case, you have a new group of Aliens. It’s true. Your present group of Aliens includes EBas, Pecco, Fabio, Aleix. The jury is officially out on #93; we may be witnessing the end of an era, the emergence of Italy, fast young Italian Riders and the, ahem, iconic Italian brand, the Really Big Red Machine. Europe, in Ducati and Aprilia, seeming to enjoy the upper hand in recent times, Fabio and Yamaha holding on for dear life. The Suzuki boys, Rins and Mir, appear disillusioned, watching their teams disintegrate beneath them.

And so it goes in grand prix yachting. I expect that latest division amongst the racing cognoscenti is whether Marquez can bring it back home again, like, in 2023, 2024? He needs a better bike, which Honda has generally provided. No sense in gathering input from PEsp any longer, as his head is unlikely to still be in the game. Nor does he appear to be at all effective as a wingman. Anyway, I think the top three riders at this moment–Fabio, Aleix and EBas–will not be the same three at the top of the heap heading to Valencia. In my unsolicited opinion, I think Fabio is in trouble at tracks like Mugello and Red Bull Ring. Assen is the fastest track on the calendar. He is so unlikely to maintain his clean slate, and when it goes, there goes his lead in the series. Aleix is making it look easy, a third of the way through the season, and EBas is threatening to run away with things.

Somewhere in me resides the thought that the guys who’ve avoided gravel traps thus far are due for a visit. That once Fabio loses his grip on the title, his successor will have a brief ride at the top. The greatest movements, the worst movements, are a DNF at this point. The figures would argue that the riders most at risk of a DNF at this time are Fabio, Aleix, EBas and Rins. This is the type of season in which the MotoGP announcers begin wetting themselves,  waxing euphoric about “those precious _____ points.”

Similar to their race strategy at certain tracks, perhaps the riders don’t actually want to be in the lead this early in the season, especially since there is no runaway winner who needs stopping. It is simply vital that the riders gathered at the top of the heap today remain upright on race days, that they continue to gather points no matter what, that they know who and what is ahead of them and behind them. That they take no stupid risks that would jeopardize another rider.

So far, IMHO, this season is shaping up exactly the way fans want it. There are three Aliens at this moment. There is a host of challengers waiting for someone in front of them to fall. There is just so much riding on every turn, the race, the season, the silly season, which brand is on the upswing, which brand is heading down? Competition amongst the teams–first and foremost, beat your teammate.

It’s fair to expect financial pressures to force teams to cut costs, a process well beyond the scope of this effort. We’e been down this road before and have been breaking all-time track records along the way. If I were a betting man I would be that all the money spent on winglets is all the money that will get spent, i.e., no more R&D on winglets with wind tunnels and etc. Beyond that I don’t know, other than them that has, gets.

Some teams are scratching their heads this year.l LCR Honda. Factory Suzuki. Gresini, current employer of EBas. Jack Miller needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat to keep his current seat. Why does Alex Rins appear to be odd man out during this silly season? Riding Aprilia for Leopard Racing, that could work.

This week is Mugello, one of the great venues in this sport. So much history, none of which I can remember, but I know it’s out there. Perhaps the best slipstream anywhere, adds a whole new dimension to bike racing. The noise. As we like to say out here in Hoosierville, “MotoGP is one of God’s great gifts to mankind. It. Just. Is.

So go tell your friends. Tell them it’s the best sport on two wheels. Ever.

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29 Responses to “Another Crackpot MotoGP Theory Validated”

  1. dmensch Says:

    Substantial and pithy post for a non-race weekend! Bruce, you prognosticator of prognosticators, seem have nailed the DNF factor in the championship.

    The only point I’d contend with is whether a next Alien generation has been established: Quartararo maybe. Some where I read that this year’s winners tend to finish well down the order at the following race, not really Alien form.

    I’m still hoping to see Mir bump Vinales for a factory Aprilia.


    • paulevalence Says:

      so true, no dominating consistency at any track you throw at them; that’s what makes an alien. Only mortal men so far this year


  2. Starmag Says:

    Great exposition on consistency Bruce.

    The biggest out-of-nowhere surprise has been Aleix and Aprilia. Well done by both. I’d love to see them hang on to the end.
    Bill Murray – Cinderella man:

    There’s been quite a bit of rider sniveling that winglets are hindering passing. Hopefully they go the way of the Dodo. They’re ugly to me.


  3. Allison Sullivan Says:

    If you’d had a grand on Aleix Espargaro being in the mix this year, you’d be doing well right now. My main MotoGP friend is a huge Aleix fan. I think Aleix is a whiny prima donna with a big mouth (probably why he’s such good friends with Pop Gun, lol), but I have to admit at least he’s cashing the cheques said mouth writes this season. Said friend is ribbing me pretty mercilessly right now.

    I’m so disappointed in Jorge Martin this year. That boy is the fastest thing out there when he stays upright, but he’s had a horror season so far. Having said that though, some of that was pure bad luck rather than bad management, and all it would take is a string of good results, of which he’s more than capable, to spring him right up the leaderboard. I’d drink to that.

    Marky Mark can’t be happy right now. He’s riding with dipoplia in the back of his mind at every race and he’s often said that if he can’t win, he doesn’t want to play. He’s not winning. I’d expect to see him next season, but if things don’t improve, not the season after that.

    I think this season is going to shape up much the same as 2020. A bunch of different winners every weekend, and the one who wins it all being the best at scraping points from every race. Bring it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mad4TheCrest Says:

    That old saw that says, you can stop a fast rider from crashing but can’t make a slow rider go fast, is getting a real exercise with Jorge Martin and Maverick Vinales, especially, this year. While Martin makes us wonder what it will take to get him (a proven fast rider) to stop crashing, Vinales has us scratching our heads with a case of a rider who CAN be very fast indeed, but seems to spend half of each race as the slow guy, riding on eggshells. Other current Riders could fall into one of these categories too, but I’m picking on Martin and Vinales because they are, to me, the most frustrating. Rins has become almost as much a cliche of the crashing fast rider as the former icons of that model, Randy de Puniet and Alvaro Bautista, but I like his Colin Edwards-like riding style, so I am giving him a pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Vrooom Says:

    It would be weird for Rins to be the odd man out. He’s fourth in the championship, and has kept the rubber side down this year, unlike the previous 5. I don’t see Aleix making a lot of mistakes, is Aprilia going to renew him? That not happening might take the wind out of his sails, seems hard to imagine though.


  6. paulevalence Says:

    I feel like the concessions should continue for an additional year after they are scheduled to fall off. Currently it seems that they help the teams “catch up” to the leading teams, but never allows them to really get to the same level. Look what’s happened to KTM after they ended. and Suzuki to a degree; I hope the same does not happen for Aprilia. Besides, Ducati seems to have found a loophole anyway; just field more teams and you get way more research/data.


  7. Old MOron Says:

    How to spot an alien.
    I believe it was Randy DePuniet who coined the term. He described certain riders as being able to do things that the rest of the field could not. With this in mind, I would pick the aliens as:

    He does things that the rest of Yamaha’s very talented riders cannot.

    He’s riding the Ducati better than anyone else, and Ducati has a lot of riders. There’s an asterisk by his name, though, because he’s a 2021 bike, probably the best bike on the grid. So he has an advantage over the other Ducs.

    He has a proven track record for overriding a deficient bike. Remember when he made the claiming-rules Yamaha look good? But I would put an asterisk by his name, too. Why? Because the Aprilia seems to be a great bike this year. There’s an open question: is Aleix so great, or is he finally on a great bike? One could look at his results compared to Cole Trickle’s, but Cole is not a good yardstick.

    And that’s about it. Nobody else. Not at this time, anyway.


    • Starmag Says:

      “being able to do things that the rest of the field could not.”

      The only one that describes is Antman, despite his struggle with the new Honda. No one else makes those unbelievable saves. Many are now capable of wins, but not that. We’ll see if he gets his wins mojo back. I hope not, but he may be done.


      • Old MOron Says:

        If making saves yielded championships, it would be relevant. Doesn’t seem to be at this time.

        But your point does make me wonder how MM would do on the Yamaha. I think its reputation is “rider-friendly but slow.” Could Marc over ride it the way Fabio does to get results? Morbi and Dovi are nowhere, and these are talented riders.

        If Fabio jumps ship, I would love to see Marc on the Yam.

        If Morbi jumps ship, I would love to see Marc on the Yam.

        Liked by 1 person

        • dmensch Says:

          For years there’s been talk like “MMarquez could win on any bike”. I’m an MM fan, but recent results seem to show that it’s not likely?


          • Old MOron Says:

            Maybe the new wisdom is, “Marc can win on any bike except the current Honda.” 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Starmag Says:

              No excuse if that’s what you are implying. But I don’t see anyone else winning or even getting near the front on it either. That will change due to Honda’s resources and commitment.

              Besides Antman’s saves, only El Diablo is doing something no one else can by winning on a Yamaha. Wins by Ducati are normal now by whoever.


        • Starmag Says:

          “If making saves yielded championships, it would be relevant. Doesn’t seem to be at this time.”

          It was key to his championships to make all those saves though, while, yes, not currently.

          I don’t think his problem is much physical, but rather mental. Taking the beating he has from the last version of the RC213, which the back end liked to step out on, producing ugly beatings from high sides, has taken a psychological toll. The new version with more rear bias seems to have cured that at the expense of front grip which now makes it uncompetitive, even for him. Such is life at the edge. I’m expecting Honda to balance that long before the end of the season and hence, Antman to be at least somewhat more competitive by then.


          • Old MOron Says:

            If he has a mental problem, I was right to leave him off the Aliens list. As I said, “Not at this time, anyway.”


      • Buzz Says:

        His right arm still isn’t right and most of the tracks are right turns. Right? It’s why he kicks ass on counter clockwise tracks.


    • Buzz Says:

      Excellent use of Cole Trickle. Gold star for you.


  8. Buzz Says:

    Looks like the GP of Finland is getting bumped to 2023. Thanks Putin.


    • vassilg Says:

      I dont see how this can stop the homologation. Last year was “post covid situation”. Probably the track is not ready yet again and this year “geopolitical situation” is nice excuse. In my country we like to blame Putin for our failures as well. Financial situation is more likely.


      • Starmag Says:

        “In my country we like to blame Putin for our failures as well.”

        Well done vassilg, but watch out for this:

        “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”

        ― Selwyn Duke


  9. Old MOron Says:

    Wow! What a qualifying session. That was fun.
    And what a fantastic front row. The new boys are making statements.

    Regarding Marc Marquez: I don’t think he has any head problems. The guy was fearless today. I watched his last lap in nervous amazement. He finally tried a lap on his own, without following anyone, and he rode like he didn’t care if he died. His bike was moving and shaking so much beneath him, I expected parts to come flying off of it at any moment. For all the risk he took, his placement on the grid seems almost unjust.

    I say almost because he wasn’t the only one taking huge risks. I couldn’t believe the lean angles the fastest riders were getting. I can’t even imagine going to the razor edge of the tires with spots of rain on my face shield.

    What a fantastic qualifying session. Wow! I can’t wait for the race.


    • Buzz Says:

      Honda clearly needs to get its s$#t together. That bike is a death machine. No wonder the non aliens suck on it.


      • Starmag Says:

        You were right about his arm and I was wrong about it being mental. I didn’t see his Q2 crash you spoke of. He’s going out for a 4th(!) arm surgery after this race because he says he’s in a lot pain. A comeback again after that would be super human. Odder things have happened, but the odds don’t look good. A shame because he was looking good again with those 3 wins last year, which is why I picked him to do well this year.


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