In a couple of hours the MotoGP class takes to the Losail International Circuit in FP1 to start off the MotoGP round at Qatar. What this means is that winter, my friends, are finally over! Well for some of us at least!
Yesterday’s event was the press conference, the first of the year, the one that really answers most of the questions built over winter. Main points of discussion were a) who will be Marquez’s rivals this year, b) Yamaha’s new performance with their main upgrade over winter being the fully seamless gearbox, c) Lorenzo’s fitness coming into the first round, d) Ducati’s radically new bike and its rider’s assessment of such machinery, e) Suzuki’s hopes in the first few rounds of the championship and lastly f) how Crutchlow is getting along with the satellite factory Honda.
Marquez played it shy saying that everyone now is pretty much on same footing coming into the season. Yamaha with their new upgrades, Ducati’s new bike, the other manufacturer’s making headway towards the front. It will be a close battle, battles in which either one-on-one or in groups he doesn’t mind. Preferring the latter to the former in the name of fun was the response of the reigning world champ. Last year he came to this round missing a few tests and recovering from a broken leg injury, but let me remind you he won here last year despite those setbacks and he comes this year fully fit. Cue the dramatic drum beats.
Yamaha’s new fully seamless gearbox brought smiles to this man, Rossi. Now he can fully exploit the potential of harder braking and corner exits. When asked about the last two years at Qatar, which proved to be of great battles for both him and Marquez he just smiled and retorted that those battles were the best of any start of the season he’s had.
5 kilos lighter and in much better shape than one year ago sits Lorenzo ready to fight for the championship. There was no sugar coating his misfortunes of the first few rounds at the start of last year’s campaign but he made no excuses for it. Working with a new trainer, which shows, and being more confident and determined he brought forth an aura not seen in recent press conferences. Could this mean the cut throat smooth killer is back?
I know there is a smile under there somewhere. Dovi is surely the most happiest of lads in the paddock these days as opposed to the last few years at Ducati. With the new bike being somewhat ACTUALLY competitive his main goal is to continue development and fight for podiums, even though it is way too early to tell how it will perform in actual race conditions. Topping time sheets in tests is one thing, making them consistent over race distance is another.
The Suzuki project has been praised for its excellent handling but looked down upon by its immense lack of power in comparison to the other machinery on the grid. Espargaro comments that fighting for top five and even podiums at the moment would be an ideal goal, but for the first few rounds they need to finish, gather points and as much information as possible so the engineers can fix problems they know to be existence. Don’t let him fool you, he finished here in fourth position last year aboard a Open Class Yamaha. He has the speed, now he just needs the bike to have it too.
Three different bikes in three season is the wrap that Crutchlow has around the paddock. Now sitting in the CMW LRC Honda team aboard a satellite bike will he fare any better than his stint at Ducati where he managed one podium finish? When the test started Crutchlow looked lost on the RCV213V but as the Qatar test concluded he seemed to be more at home now than before. Main question was how was he gelling with his new team but answered simply ‘we will need a few more races to get everything dialed in,’ I can only assume that means the team and the bike as well. A journal asked to describe their bikes in one word and Crutchlow’s response was simply ‘WHITE,’ I mean that thing can blind a person in direct sunlight I tell you!
In a few hours the engines start and the rubber hits the ground running! if you dont have your videopass from MotoGP right now I suggest you go and purchase it!