Archive for the ‘MotoGP Le Mans’ Category

MotoGP 2014 Le Mans Preview

May 13, 2014

All eyes on the streaking Marquez 

Repsol Honda #1 Marc Marquez sits atop the grand prix motorcycle racing world with expectations growing at a geometric rate.  Heading into Round 5, he has captured the last five poles, dating back to Valenciana last season, and has won every contest in 2014.  He has topped the timesheets in most of the practice sessions.  Aside from his boyish good looks, all he has going for him is timing, balance, reflexes, intelligence and a really good bike.  The only hope for the rest of the grid this weekend is rain and plenty of it. 

Luckily for the grid, the flying circus will be performing in France, where the last two races have been declared “wet.”  (When it’s heidi_klum_51raining pitchforks and hammer handles, having a marshal flashing a sign reading “WET RACE” is like watching Heidi Klum strut down a runway with some dweeb in the first row waving a sign reading “SUPERMODEL.”  Not exactly necessary.  Just sayin’.)

Recent History at Le Mans

The most recent dry race at the legendary Bugatti Circuit took place in 2011, when Repsol Honda chieftain Casey Stoner got away early on his way to a) the win, and b) that year’s championship.  Behind him, pandemonium reigned, as Marco Simoncelli put Stoner’s Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa out of the race and into the hospital with an ill-advised passing attempt on Lap 17.  Repsol #3 Andrea Dovizioso took advantage of Pedrosa’s misfortune to steal second place from Valentino Rossi, who put his Ducati Desmosedici on the podium for the first and only time that year.

In 2012, factory Yamaha stud Jorge Lorenzo ruled Le Mans in the rain, beating Rossi to the finish by 10 interminable seconds.  Rossi, in turn, punked Casey Stoner on the last lap, relegating the Australian, who had announced his surprise retirement that weekend, to third.  Afterwards, it was hard to tell whether Rossi was more jubilant over making it to the podium or sticking Stoner’s you-know-what in the dirt.

Dani-dani-pedrosa-9702356-435-380Last year was Dani Pedrosa’s One Shining Moment, as the diminutive Spaniard, who had struggled all weekend and started out of the six hole, put the hammer down at the start and led the last 23 laps of the very wet race, launching himself into first place for the season.  Cal Crutchlow, in his final (competitive) year aboard the Tech 3 Yamaha, managed second place, despite having his entire body held together with Bondo and strapping tape.  Rookie Marquez made it to third place after a three day escapade during which he spent roughly as much time in the runoff areas as on the track.  The two factory Ducati bikes managed fourth and fifth, unable to shake the cursed “mudder” label.

Feast or Famine for Rossi at Le Mans

In his last six visits to the Loire River valley, Valentino Rossi has experienced the highs and lows of his chosen profession.  He followed up his win in 2008 with the comical flag-to-flag outing in 2009 in which he finished 16th.  In 2010 he finished second to Yamaha teammate Lorenzo, and podiumed in both 2011 and 2012 while wrestling the Ducati.  Last year, back again with Yamaha, he crashed out of third place in the middle of the race under pressure from Crutchlow and ended up finishing 12th.

Some years chicken; some years feathers.  After watching his teammate Lorenzo get overtaken late in the day in Jerez by Mr. Pedrosa, Rossi is probably looking forward to a little payback this weekend, especially with Dani coming in at less than 100% fitness.

Latest Honda Fad—Arm Pump Surgery 

Last week both Dani Pedrosa and LCR Honda strongman Stefan Bradl underwent surgery to repair muscles in their forearms that want to bust out of their casings like bratwursts on a hot grille.  Pedrosa, whom we weren’t aware was having any physical problems on his way to another solid third place finish in Jerez, might simply miss going under general anesthesia, as it’s been almost a year since his last collarbone surgery.

Bradl, it will be remembered, had problems in Jerez that indicated something was wrong; now we know what it was.  Although both riders have been cleared to race this weekend, Le Mans is one of those stop-and-go joints that demands a lot of hard braking.  Pedrosa will have his work cut out for him to keep his own personal string of eight consecutive podium finishes alive.

There is no truth to the rumor that Alvaro Bautista requested permission to have surgery on one of his forearms, in order to do a little bonding with the factory Honda riders who aren’t embarrassing themselves this season.  Bautista is not having arm pump issues, just every other issue imaginable.

This Just In—Cal Crutchlow Frustrated with DucatiCrutchlow

Last year, after four rounds, a fractious Cal “I’m Good Enough for a Factory Ride” Crutchlow sat in fourth place for the season with 55 points.  Later in the year, he achieved his goal of becoming a factory team rider, abandoning the Tech 3 Yamaha squad and hooking up with Ducati Corse to take on the badass Desmosedici.  Sure, the Big Red Machine was widely seen as a career buster.  Sure, even the Doctor was unable to get it to work right, suffering through two of the worst years of his life.  But, it was argued, Cal is big and burly and strong enough to bend the Ducati to his will.  He was going to show the world that it wasn’t just about the money.

Um, no.  Heading into Round 5, Cal sits mired in 16th place, a mere two points ahead of Karel Abraham, for God’s sake, with ten (10) championship points to show for his season thus far.  He’s now mouthing off in the media about the junk he’s being forced to ride.  He is the least productive of the four Ducati pilots, two of whom aren’t making “factory” money.  At this point, Cal needs to man up and start running with teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who podiumed in Austin and currently sits in fourth place for the year.  Having made his bed, the Brit needs to lie in it and STFU.  As they say back home, “Hard cheese, old boy.”

New Rubber Coming in 2016

Having grown weary of being the whipping boy for every rider from Valentino Rossi to Gabor Talmacsi since 2009, Bridgestone has announced that it will no longer be the sole supplier of tires to MotoGP after next season.  This leaves the field open for the other three candidates—Pirelli, Dunlop and Michelin—to step up to what is a thankless job.  Never mind all the data the company collects and then ostensibly uses to improve its retail lines.  Not a race goes by without some rider or 12 whining about grip, deterioration, etc.   From what little I’ve read on the subject, Michelin appears to have the inside track.  Similarly, there seems to be little debate that the change in tires will have a greater impact on the sport than the forthcoming changes in the ECUs.

What About the Weather in France This Weekend?

Glad you asked.  As of Tuesday afternoon, the forecast is surprisingly good, calling for fair skies and mild temps, with next to no chance of rain.  Personally, I’ll believe it when I see it.  If it turns out to be a dry race, I suspect there’ll be more Yamahas on the podium than Hondas.  If it’s wet, expect Andrea Dovizioso to find his way to the rostrum.  The race goes off at 8 am EDT on Sunday, and we hope to have results right here that afternoon, even though our favorite editor will likely be on his honeymoon.  Congratulations Dennis and Jackie.

MotoGP Mugello 2013 Preview

May 27, 2013

by Bruce Allen

Team Yamaha Needs to Assert Itself 

As Round Five of the 2013 MotoGP championship season steams toward us, the very air crackling in its wake,  we are reminded of one of the oldest truths in motor sports.  We are reminded that championships are rarely won in the first quarter of the season.  They can, however, be lost.  Such is the inconvenient truth facing Yamaha pilots Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi this weekend at the circuit that will almost surely bear Rossi’s name someday. 

For Team Yamaha, finishing one-two at Mugello would be like holding serve—great, yeah, but nothing to really celebrate.  Anything less will range from a disappointment to a disaster, neither of which would be helpful at this point of this season.  Or, actually, any point.  Of any season.  Not helpful at all.

Expectations for Team Blue are high this weekend.  As are the stakes.

For the ebullient Repsol Honda team, fresh off their French triumph, putting one bike on the podium at Mugello is both necessary and sufficient.  Two would be a big win.  Zero only happens if someone fails to finish the race.  Two Hondas on the Italian podium spells trouble for the factory Yamaha team.  Trouble we might have seen coming, had we been paying closer attention to the season and less attention to Losail.

Losail gave us a false sense of Lorenzo/Rossi/Yamaha security.  Look at the points earned by the primary factory teams round by round:


Repsol Honda Team

Factory Yamaha Team


One – Losail



Two – COTA



Three – Jerez



Four – Le Mans




Average (less Round One)



Losail affected our thinking, putting the end of last season, and the entire offseason testing program, out of our heads.  That was an error in perception. My error, though I’m probably not alone.  But Losail is, after all, the outlier, the season opener under the lights in the desert, and doesn’t really have much of anything to do with anything else.  So Lorenzo and Rossi’s surprising 1-2 at Losail obscured the fact that Honda appeared to have it very much going on heading into the season.  Other than at Losail.

Since then, that has been the exact case.  One/two, one/two and one/three in three “normal” rounds.   Yamaha might insist we throw out Le Mans as the second outlier—France in the cold and wet—but even doing so, the blue bikes are not keeping up.  Not in Texas or Jerez, which isn’t really surprising, given the layouts.  But not in Le Mans, either, where Yamaha success has generally come easily.  True, Rossi was flying when he crashed in France and looked to have podium written all over him, but such is life running with the big dogs.


Changing of the Guard Underway?

If, as expected, Pol Espargaro signs a one year deal with Monster Tech3 Yamaha, it suggests the Rossi era at Yamaha will end, again, after the 2014 season, in The Doctor’s 35th year.  It will point to Lorenzo and Espargaro fronting the factory team versus Pedrosa and Marquez on the Hondas.  It means Yamaha will have to find more acceleration, while Honda seems to have found all it needs.

There is, too, the outside possibility Dani Pedrosa would not be offered a new contract at the expiration of his current deal after 2014. Lorenzo - Marquez To ride the Repsol Honda for nine (9) years, with all those wins, but no titles…And it doesn’t get any easier at age 30, which will be the age he turns in the first year of his next contract.  There must be those at Honda Racing HQ who have run out of patience with the gutsy little Spaniard.  They want titles; they don’t get all choked up listening to the Spanish national anthem.

Anyway.  If Marc Marquez is, indeed, The Next Great Thing and, by extension, Espargaro the Next Next Great Thing, then whom, we wonder, is the Next Next Next Great Thing?  Scott Redding?  Alex Rins?  Alex Marquez?

It was only 2011 when Marco Simoncelli looked like The Next Great Thing.

Whomever he turns out to be, he will enter MotoGP at a time when it is becoming homogenized.  When the prototype bikes will be getting slowed and the CRT bikes faster.  When teams will likely experience more sudden success and more thorough financial failure.  Where the rules will continue to bend in favor of the more democratic CRT bikes, and away from the monolithic factory behemoths and traditional sponsors who have funded and ruled the sport forever.

The revelation that Dorna Big Cheese and magnate Carmen Ezpeleta is a closet socialist is too sweet.  He’s starting to make MotoGP sound like kids’ rec league soccer, wanting “EVERYONE to get a trophy!”  “Yes, we would like 30 bikes that all go the same speed and that cost the teams €100,000 each only.  They can use as much fuel as they like and are limited to 12 engines for the season.  No other rules.  We don’t need no more steenkin’ rules.  12 engines.  €100,000 each.  Plenty of gas.  Brolly girls.  That’s IT.”  Which, in the opinion of a lot of purists, is in fact desirable.  Delusional, but fun to think about.

MotoGP is morphing, squeezed by economics , resembling World SuperBikes more each year.  Now, if Aprilia would step up with a two bike factory team, and if Suzuki could become relevant again.  Wouldn’t it be fun to see, say, Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies united on a hot new Suzuki MotoGP team.  If not Hayden, then perhaps Spies and Redding, who currently rides 9kg over the weight floor in Moto2 and would be a force on 1000cc.    How about Big Brother Aleix Espargaro and Crutchlow fronting a factory Aprilia team?  If Little Brother gets a prototpe, it’s only fair that big brother gets one too.

Back to Mugello

MotoGP success for team Yamaha in Italy—both bikes on the podium—would move the focus to the following three rounds,  spaced bi-weekly, more or less, in Catalunya, Assen and the Sachsenring  heading into the heat of the summer.  Catalunya favors Yamaha.  Assen and Germany both favor Honda, at least recently.  Let’s review.  Team Yamaha needs to score a lot of points in Italy and Catalunya, keep it close in northern Europe, and hope to still be in it heading for the U.S. in July and August.

Otherwise, we’ll be reduced to arguing Marc vs. Dani or Dani vs. Marc.  When we’re not scratching our heads over whatever became of Stefan Bradl.  Or ruminating about why Cal Crutchlow doesn’t get any respect from owners.

As to our hope for two competitive factory teams at the top of MotoGP in 2013, one of two possible answers will emerge in Tuscany:  If Pedrosa and Marquez continue their hot streak at Mugello, it will probably mean Honda all the way in 2013.  That would be a No.  If Lorenzo and Rossi find what they need and dominate the proceedings, that would be a Maybe.

Let’s not forget the 2010 race.  Mugello that year was Round Four.  After Round Three in France, Lorenzo led Rossi 70 to 61, Dovizioso trailing in 3rd with 42.  Rossi had his high side in practice and was suddenly down and out of the chase for the title.  After Mugello, it was Lorenzo 90, Pedrosa 65, (Rossi 61), Dovizioso 58.  It was essentially over, suddenly Lorenzo’s to lose.  In the blink of an eye.

At 200 mph on two wheels with the best in the world on the best of the world, as observed in Forrest Gump, “(stuff) happens.”  Marquez, to his credit, has been off his bike only once thus far in his premier class debut.  Pedrosa, on the other hand, has been separated from his too often to count over the years, generally with bad and lasting effects.  Marquez’s style seems to invite the close encounters he’s enjoyed over his brief career.  But he, too, has memories of Sepang, where he hit his head hard enough in 2011 to have double vision for the next six months.  While the rest of the world grieved for Sic, Marquez also dealt with the possibility that his promising professional career had ended before it fully started.

As we’ve already seen, such worries were misplaced.

See live coverage of the Italian Grand Prix Sunday at 7:30 am EDT on SpeedTV.  We’ll have the results of the race here on Sunday afternoon.

MotoGP News: Pedrosa Wins at Le Mans

May 19, 2013

This article is now published on

Dani Pedrosa Wins Shocker in the Rain 

At the start of the 2013 French Grand Prix, the Alien with the faintest prospects had to be Repsol Honda minuteman Dani Pedrosa.  Since joining the premier class in 2006, he had never finished higher than third here.  Though his free practice sessions were good, he crashed in qualifying, putting him back in the 6 hole for the start.  He was eighth in the wet morning warm up practice.  But when the red lights went out, it was Pedrosa who dropped the hammer on his rivals, won the race, and put himself in the lead for the 2013 world championship.  Bravo, Dani! 

80,000 soaked French spectators received more shocks today than a nun in a cucumber patch:

  • Andrea Dovizioso led more laps on his factory Ducati than Valentino Rossi did in the last two years, before fading to fourth place.
  • Cal “It’s Only a Flesh Wound” Crutchlow drove his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha to an exhilarating second place finish, providing his French team with its best result in years, with a cracked shinbone and too many contusions to count, courtesy of yet another hard fall on Saturday.
  • Rookie sensation Marc Marquez finished third—not a surprise—after driving his Repsol Honda all over the park, skirting the gravel more than once, and spending a good part of the day in eighth place.  Marquez is very good.  He also seems to be very lucky, a powerful combination.
  • Valentino Rossi, who struggled all weekend, started eighth on his factory M-1 and was looking strong, running third on Lap 14 when pressure from a streaking Crutchlow forced him into a lowside and an eventual 12th place finish.  Rossi can ill afford more disappointment at Mugello.  In the words of Satchel Paige, he’d best not look backwards, ‘cause something may be gaining on him.
  • Even Nicky Hayden had a good day, moving up from the 10 hole at the start to finish fifth, putting more Ducatis than Yamahas in the Top Five.
  • Yamaha #1 Jorge Lorenzo will, at some point, tell us what the heck happened to his race today.  As our deadline looms, we’re left to wonder.  See below.

For the second year in a row, the race was run in the rain.  Last year, Lorenzo ran away from the field to win for the third time in four tries in France.  The Mallorcan started well today, dogging race leader Andrea Dovizioso and his red Ducati for two laps before dropping like a stone for a dozen laps to as far back as ninth place on Lap 17.  He would ultimately finish seventh behind Fun & Go Honda slacker Alvaro Bautista, for God’s sake.  Was it water vapor inside his visor?  A slow leak in his rear tire?  The heartbreak of psoriasis?  Whatever it was, it left him with a nine point day, buried in third place for the year.  Not exactly a momentum booster heading to Mugello in two weeks.

A Quick Word about MotoGP Qualifying

Across the board in motorsports, everyone makes a big deal about how important it is to qualify well.  MotoGP, buying heavily into this theory during the offseason, decided that it needed two qualifying sessions to sort out the finer points of determining who starts where.  Granted, the 15 minute qualifying sessions are a hoot, resembling a Chinese fire drill, especially at the longer circuits, where coming up with a single fast lap can be a challenge.

Today was a good example of the folly of such thinking.  The first three qualifiers were Marquez, Lorenzo and Dovizioso.  By the midpoint of the first lap, your race leaders were Dovizioso, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, who had started sixth, while Marquez was dawdling in 10th.  On the silliness scale, this ranks just behind the National Basketball Association, where teams play 82 regular season games to secure homecourt advantage in the playoffs, then go out and lose the first game in the series.   Just sayin’.

Elsewhere on the Grid

LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl crashed today for the third time in four outings in his rookie season onboard the Honda RC213V.  After winning the Moto2 title last year and tearing it up during offseason testing, young Stefan and Company must be shaking their heads, trying to get the taste of ashes out of their mouths.  The six points he earned today by finishing 10th are but cold comfort.

Perhaps the best eighth place finish of the year was turned in today by Michele Pirro, subbing for Ben Spies on the Ignite Pramac Ducati.  Pirro, called up two rounds ago when Spies’ physical problems put him on the shelf for Jerez, started in 14th place and moved steadily up on the field all day.  It must be said that Le Mans, especially in the rain, is a Ducati-friendly circuit.

Today’s race put the vast difference between the prototypes and the CRT bikes in clear perspective.  All 12 of the prototypes finished today, occupying the top 12 spots at the flag.  Five of the 12 CRT bikes failed to finish, including homeboy Randy de Puniet, whose Lap 17 crash left him with six (6) points for the season, as compared to teammate Aleix Espargaro’s 20.  De Puniet confirmed this weekend that he will be in Japan this coming week testing the 2014 Suzuki prototype, causing me to wonder who’s in charge of the racing program at the Hamamatsu factory, and what’s in his medicine cabinet.

The Big Picture

Today’s race shuffled the Top Ten standings for the year, elevating Crutchlow and Dovizioso at the expense of Bautista and Rossi, respectively.  The Repsol Honda team must smell blood with Mugello, historically a very Yamaha-friendly circuit, next up.  Everyone expects Yamaha to do well in Italy, with its wide, sweeping curves, thousands of Rossi supporters, and eight wins (plus two seconds) in the past 10 years.  But if Pedrosa and Marquez end up on the podium in suburban Florence, the 2013 constructor’s trophy is likely to go to Honda for the third year in a row.

2013 Champ Standings after 4 Rounds Top Ten

Next Up:  Mugello

MotoGP makes its annual pilgrimage to Tuscany in two weeks, to the legendary Mugello circuit outside Florence.  Ground Zero for the Renaissance is always one of the favorite stops on the MotoGP calendar.  This year, the pressure on Lorenzo and Rossi is enormous, as the season is starting to get away from them.

In our Le Mans preview last week, we compared the premier class battle between the factory Honda and Yamaha teams to the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, and found ourselves leaning toward the tortoise.  Perhaps we’ve been misled by this story for generations.  Perhaps, indeed, young and fast beats consistent and experienced.  We’ll find out in two weeks.

MotoGP Le Mans 2013 Preview

May 14, 2013

An edited version of this article, complete with hi-rez photos, is now available at

Team Yamaha Ready to Rumble in the Rain 

As the fastest sport on two wheels heads into France for Round Four, one thing is certain—the stakes for the 2013 championship are higher than they’ve been in years.  The Repsol Honda team of Dani Pedrosa and rookie sensation Marc Marquez has youth and speed going for it.  The factory Yamaha duo of defending champion Jorge Lorenzo and prodigal veteran Valentino Rossi has consistency and experience in its corner.  And while it’s not quite the fabled Tortoise and the Hare, the analogy works. 

Sure, rookie Marquez has been setting the world on fire thus far.  And sure, Dani Pedrosa came through in Jerez when he really needed a win, aided by an assist from his young wingman.  Lorenzo, though, is a double world champion, and Rossi, who is still getting used to the factory M-1 on which he dominated the game for years, has another seven premier class trophies lying around his man cave back in Italy.  It’s just too early in the season to suggest that this is Marquez’s year, or Pedrosa’s year, or even Honda’s year.

In 2013, He Who Remains Upright will win the title.

Take a look back at the last four champions.  Rossi won in 2009 despite a comical wet/dry 16th place finish in France and crashing out in Indianapolis.  In 2010, Lorenzo didn’t crash all year, but won the trophy by 140 points and could have easily absorbed a few lowsides without damaging his championship prospects.  Casey Stoner in 2011 crashed out early in the season at Jerez and won the title convincingly.  And last year, Lorenzo repeated despite getting de-biked by Alvaro Bautista at Assen and falling unassisted in Valencia.

Let’s pile on a little.  Here is the spread in points between first and third place, by year since 2009, after three rounds:

Year            Leader/points     Third place/points       Spread 

2009               Rossi – 65          Lorenzo – 41                 24

2010             Lorenzo – 70        Dovizioso – 42              28

2011             Lorenzo – 65          Stoner – 41                   24

2012              Stoner – 66          Pedrosa – 52                14

2013           Marquez – 61             Lorenzo – 57                 4 

All of which is a rather long way of saying that a DNF this season, by any of the top four riders, will put him squarely behind the eight ball.  If Rossi can find a way onto the podium at Le Mans, surprising no one, it will make things that much tighter at the top of the class.  And, judging from Marquez’s comportment in Jerez, I would say that he is the most likely of the four to get separated from his machine in the first half of the season.  Even at 320 kph, slow and steady wins the race.

Recent History at Le Mans

2009 was the epic flag-to-flag affair that saw Lorenzo run away from the field, joined sometime later on the podium by one Marco Melandri on the Hayate Racing Kawasaki— I know, right?—and third place finisher Dani Pedrosa.  The following excerpt from that day’s coverage remains one of my all-time favorites:

The first rider to pit was Valentino Rossi, who was busily watching Lorenzo lengthen his lead until, on Lap 4,he couldn’t stand it anymore, and pitted to swap his wet bike for the dry.  Thus began one of the worst days of his premier class career.  In chronological order, he immediately executed a rousing lowside, limped back to the pits, traded his tattered dry bike for his original wet bike, got flagged for speeding on pit row, took his ride-through penalty, turned a few slow laps, pitted again, traded back his wet bike for his now-repaired dry bike, returned to the track and finished 16th, two laps down. He might as well have gone to Baltimore to watch the Preakness.

In 2010 it was Lorenzo again, joined onstage by Rossi and Dovizioso.  Stoner’s early crash left the door open for the Mallorcan.  At the end of the day Lorenzo led the Australian by 59 points, and Stoner’s dream of a title in 2010 lay in ruins.

Two years ago, Casey Stoner took his first career win at Le Mans with an easy stroll past Dovizioso and Rossi.  This was the race in which the late Marco Simoncelli undercut Pedrosa in one of the lefthanders and sent him flying off his bike and out of the 2011 championship race.  For Rossi, the 2011 French Grand Prix podium would be the high water mark in a brutal inaugural season with Ducati.

Finally, in 2012, Lorenzo again led the way, this time in a driving rainstorm, while Rossi enjoyed one of his two podiums last year, finishing second, ten seconds behind Lorenzo and two seconds in front of Casey Stoner, who had announced his impending retirement only days earlier.

Having enjoyed three wins out of his last four outings in France, in the wet, the dry and in-between, Jorge Lorenzo should be the favorite going into the weekend.  With weather conditions expected to be cold and damp, it’s not that hard to envision Rossi on the podium and Marquez in the gravel.  And with but one third place podium finish at Le Mans since 2007, not to mention his season-ruining crash in 2011, Dan Pedrosa’s expectations for the weekend are bound to be fairly modest.

Ben Spies MIA Again

As was the case last time out in Jerez, Ben Spies will be reclining in Texas this weekend, nursing his shoulder, chest and ego.  Michele Pirro will again be riding a Ducati on Sunday, this time as a substitute rider for the Ignite Pramac team.  Last time out he was a wildcard.  The difference being, this time he’s into Spies’ engine allotment, which can’t make Ben all too happy.  According to, “After a medical check in Dallas, American Spies was advised that it was in his best interests to delay his comeback.”  Um, perhaps until 2014, in World SuperBikes, running around with Nicky Hayden and becoming relevant again.  Everyone’s pointing to Mugello, but we’re taking a wait-and-see attitude.

Quick Hitters

Hectic Hector Barbera received a bit of community service as his punishment for getting beat up by his ex-girlfriend a few weeks ago in Jerez.  One wonders what the sentence might have been had he WON the fight…

Most of the CRT bikes are getting a software upgrade for their ECU units this weekend.  The exceptions are the ART entries of Espargaro, de Puniet, Abraham and Hernandez.  (No one seems to know, or actually care, whether Bryan Staring will be getting new software or not.)  One of the upgrades to the package is referred to as “anti-jerk”, which came along too late to be of any use to James Toseland…

The rumors of Cal Crutchlow’s impending demise at Monster Tech 3 Yamaha just won’t go away.  Stunning, in my opinion, that Pol Espargaro is being groomed to take the place of the gutsy Brit.  This could mean, of course, that Nicky Hayden is toast at Ducati, and that he will be consigned to promoting the Ducati brand in WSB, while Crutchlow will get his long-awaited factory ride.  (You gotta be careful what you wish for, Cal.  Ask Andrea Dovizioso.)  Following the dominoes, it suggests the brass at Yamaha corporate see the end of the Rossi era approaching, especially if Espargaro signs a one year deal with Tech 3.

The cool part will be watching the Espargaro brothers go at each other next season.  Recall 2011 when both were working in Moto2, as older brother Aleix punked Pol by a single point for the season.  Take that, bitch.

It’s a pretty good bet that last sentence won’t make it past the editors.  J

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