MotoGP: Mugello 2011
The fumes haven't yet cleared from the Paddock at Assen, the lucky stragglers still reeling from the contact high and the revelations from Saturday's race: Ben Spies has become the first non-"Alien" to win a dry race in the 800cc class - the definition of an "alien", though many insist he is not yet ready for title, Ducati debuted the GP11.1 to... mixed results, Sic continues his roll as human torpedo, equalizing (not quite) the points deficit caused between the current title contenders when Rossi took out Casey by taking out Lorenzo in turn, and on down the field. Yet even before the media circus has packed for departure from Assen news of Mugello has begun pouring in. Of no small note is the fact that Dani Pedrosa is confirmed to racethis weekend. It is interesting that the story was first revealed in a blog entry, and Honda's official confirmation came later. There are still several questions regarding his fitness to race. While there is no doubt that he is capable of performing well, Colin got a podium just 2 weeks after major surgery, the big question is whether he is able to maintain the pace necessary to challenge at the front for race distance. Questions regarding the nature of his injury - specifically how on earth he managed to injure himself that badly - are seondary, but will still haunt him for the weekend in the media. How well he handles press inquiry may be telling. Of equal, or even greater, import is the fact that Yamaha has cancelled their 2012 test for the Mugello round. Ducati had previously cancelled their test at this round due to all of the testing done previously in an effort to conserve days and focus on the GP11.1. Honda followed suit soon after. Yamaha's cancellation means that the highly anticipated test, the first opportunity for the 3 major manufacturers to showcase their bikes on the same stage, will now be devoid of fcatory bikes. CRT bikes will be available for testing, however the results will be of limited use. Not only will available comparisons be limited solely to the 800 machines but, with the state of the rules in flux, their performance may be regulated to a different spec at any point. Only the factories know how their 1000cc bikes compare to their 800s, and being able to evaluate the CRT entries against the 800s gives them invaluable insight into next season without a return view to the fans or CRTs. Beyond that, given Dorna's preponderance to yielding to the whims of the factories the CRTs could be neutered should their performance be too competitive without even realizing it. Elsewhere in the paddock, Rossi expresses satisfaction in the GP11.1's performance on Sunday. While he finished 4th in the race, again, the team has some very positive take aways from the race. First is that they were able to improve on their qualifying position. Rossi was definitely far off pace during practice and qualifying, the team working feverishly to find a setup that they could exploit on the new bike. It is telling that they were able to do just that, with Rossi getting the feedback he needed in the race to push for a fast time, despite limited (and highly visible) testing of the new platform. The other positive take-away is that Rossi admits to taking it somewhat easy in the opening laps, feeling out the bike and seeing how it performed. Whether it speaks to him sufficiently to allow him to challenge for the win at Mugello remains to be seen. Meanwhile Sic expresses regret and calls himself a fool over The Incident with Lorenzo. "I could have waited," he says meditatively; and "I will grow from this." Unfortunately it sounds like the same rehearsed speech that he said only a few weeks ago. The question, the absolute burning question, is whether or not he actually is learning. I expect there to be some sparks during the weekend press conference between him and Lorenzo. I don't see Lorenzo just letting it go. Fortunately there was no injury but I expect some fallout. Onwards to Sunday.