MotoGP: 2012 Mugello
Fighting the Good Fight The dust has barely settled from the last round and already the teams take to the track once more. Yet as the teams try to focus on the tasks at hand fans continue to remain enthralled by the twists and turns that the off track action have pumped into the season. No racing series is immune to controversy, however the 2012 season has become so interwoven with it that it has become a indelible part of the year's racing tapestry. As proof that life unravels itself in cycles, the technical focus of GP's drama this season has been tires. Tire issues forced the single make rule to go into effect after several high profile and catastrophic failures by Michelin made Bridgestone the de facto single manufacturer as all of the top riders attempted to switch as quickly as possible, and contracts be damned. Focus then turned to electronics and the increasing role that it was, and continues to play in rider performance. Now the focus returns squarely to tires as Bridgestone suffers from weekly similar failures to that of Michelin. The latest twist in this story though is something that few could have seen coming. Jorge Lorenzo looked set to lose his lead on the title from the very outset of the race as the factory Hondas hated off into the distance. He would later report that using the softer tire would have given him over a second per lap, however Bridgestone refused to give him the softer tire. Read that again: Bridgwstone refused to let him take the chance on the softer tire that failed him as they continue to investigate the causes of recent tire failures. Which options he has available in the next few rounds could have major implications on the remaining year. Lorenzo of course did not lose his hard earned lead on the championship. In a moment eerily reminiscent of Lorenzo's 2010 battle with Rossi that narrowly averted disaster for the Spaniards, title contender Stoner locked horns with Repsol Honda teammates Dani Pedrosa for the entire race. Though Casey would briefly take the lead, Pedrosa would soon reclaim it and proceed to block the passing line for every following lap. As the corners counted down to the checkered flag, an increasingly frustrated Stoner would hound Pedrosa until only the second corner to the race's end. Then, disaster! The combination of a light rainfall, one of the most dramatic elevation changes on the calendar, extreme braking force and a 90 degree turn culminated in a tucked front end and Stoner in the kitty litter. Pedrosa would rack up his first win of the season, Lorenzo would once again assume the championship lead, and Casey would be left wondering what could have been had his win it or been it move had come one corner late as he had planned. In a show of grit, Casey attempted to remount to salvage as many points as he could, only to be blocked by the marshals as they attempted to usher him away. This move brought stern criticism from the Aussie, who likened the experience to the aftermath of Rossi's collision wig him on a wet track. However insiders point to the likelihood that in this case the corner workers could have been operating under Race Direction who, noting the dampening conditions and Casey's proximity rival very high impact crash zone, may have ordered that section. Of track cleared to make room for the next group of closing riders. Either possibility leaves the same result, that Casey leaves himself with a lot of work to do this weekend. No talk about the weekend can be complete without some discussion on silly season 2012, and what a season it is turning out to be. This weekend satellite rider Cal Crutchlow hostages all other factory riders, except possibly one, taking center stage for the first time. The MotoGP rumor mill has pegged Cal with an offer from Ducati for weeks now, and the latest whispers indicate that this Sunday is Cal's deadline to respond. The factory Yamaha team has still not presented an offer, with the Soup surmising that Cal's open talks with Ducati sabotaged his chances with the factory. Perhaps in anticipation of his leaving - or Dovi's - his contract with the team has been allowed to lapse without renewal and the seat already given away. With no place on what is hands down the best satellite program in the series and no offer from the Tuning Fork company, it is an almost foregone conclusion that he will accept Ducati's offer. Hedge certainly speaks in those terms already. Yet this leaves Nicky Hayden, the rider who he will replace at Ducati, in GP limbo. This is strange considering that Nicky has always performed well on the Ducati compare to every other rider except Stoner, is currently out peeking Rossi and has even supplied the setting from which much of Rossi's performance for the year is derived. Where the former MotoGP champion will end up is the cause of much speculation. Though his stated preference is to remain in the premier class, the WSBK silly season has started heating up, and rumors there have some top seats potentially available.