Is it Déjà vu?

It only seems like yesterday that the gossip columns of many motorbike journalists was crammed with juicy tidbits concerning the Repsol Honda team. The flagship of HRC was struggling with an inherent lack of pace and it was only during the recent documentary from Marquez that we learned of how many issues they really were facing. Having to try the ’15 engine in their updated chassis during testing, but that only made things worse and the 2016 season was characterised by the Honda’s lack of acceleration.

Acceleration – is a vehicle’s capacity to gain speed and from ‘Cervera to Tokyo’ it seemed to be the buzzword in the Honda garages throughout the pitlane. Something that was painfully portrayed during the final sprint to the line at Mugello where Lorenzo just about took the victory.

The issue with having a talented and at times otherworldly rider such as Marquez, is that it is very difficult for other riders using the same/similar machinery. There could be questions such as, “Well he’s using the same stuff so why can’t you do the same?” Despite this lack of acceleration and the physical effort that it took to manhandle the machine at times; Marc won the championship. After a season such as ’15, the early season tussles with Valentino and the eventual fallout of Sepang: It was a fitting reward.

26-dani-pedrosa-esp-35-cal-crutchlow-engdsc_9164.gallery_full_top_fullscreen

Pedrosa passes LCR Honda’s Crutchlow – will it be the other way around on Sunday?

There is evidence to suggest that this isn’t a season of déjà vu for the Honda mounted riders, if the times from testing are anything to go by. Out of the three tests in 2017, it was only in Qatar where only 2 of the riders (Pedrosa and Crutchlow) featured in the top 10. It is perhaps unfortunate that this happens to also be the venue for the first round but given that Marquez also views the track as a ‘bogey’ round for him also; perhaps it isn’t too much to get excited about.

As I write this, the FP1 session ended just over 2 hours ago and despite the track being somewhat dusty/green; the pace shown by both Pedrosa and Marquez would be very reassuring. Given that Vinales is already knocking on the door of the circuit’s best lap, it’s probably fair to say that they are easily the best of the rest despite the half a second gap. (FP1 Classification)

The session as a whole was very interesting, I generally like to follow every session and record them if I can’t watch them live. It was hard to fully appreciate what was significant about the action however as Qatar is a special circumstances circuit and one that has in recent years heavily favoured the Ducati; which isn’t really shown on the timesheet despite the incredibly strong showing by Baz and the somewhat surprising initial pace of Lorenzo.

I think what is staggering is the comparisons in top speeds and just how irrelevant it is over an entire lap. Jorge Lorenzo was clocked at 342.9 km/h which was nearly a full 8 km/h faster than that of the Yamaha of Vinales, although I have just highlighted that it isn’t effective to merely focus on this fact; it illustrates perhaps why the beast from Bologna is so handy around the circuit. It also ties in neatly to how I initially started this article!

Acceleration

If I was to offer my opinion of what we’re going to see this weekend, and I’m somewhat reluctant to as we’ll get a better impression of how things are really shaking out after FP3 tomorrow:

  • Rossi does seem to be struggling, to be so far off of a team mate on the same tyre combination would be quite worrying. If anyone can figure out where he is losing time and counter that though, it’s Valentino. He is also more of a Sunday man and a one lap blitz has only become part of his arsenal in the past 3 years or so.
  • Lorenzo looks very comfortable on the Ducati, but whether the gap to Vinales will cause his Mallorcan eyebrow to raise is perhaps my biggest question. Will he be able to get anywhere near to the limit whilst still being new to the machine?
  • The Honda’s look strong! Whether that is because the likes of Dovizioso, Rossi and Iannone were all relatively further down than they would of liked? This time last year in FP1: Pedrosa was 7th, Marquez 8th and Crutchlow 12th. The HRC riders kept and improved their pace in the later sessions but Crutchlow eventually finished 15th in FP3 and was unfortunately a member of the Q1 fight for a portion of the season. With Cal so much further up, is this a sign?
  • The Suzuki isn’t doing what Iannone wants it to. Again, I don’t want to make any assumptions but based on the time alone and the amount that he seemed to be working the bike. I hope I’m wrong! 18th for Rins isn’t terrible, he didn’t fall off (unlike Lowes) and he completed 16 laps; so here’s hoping for an improvement.
  • The Circuit Best Lap is going to be absolutely destroyed this weekend, if Vinales can lap within under half a second during the weekend’s first session… how low can it go?
19-alvaro-bautista-esplg5_1104.gallery_full_top_lg

Bautista ended the first day in 14th – Credits to MotoGP for the visuals!

Just to show the nature of motorsport in general, after being impressed and full of praise for Alvaro! I’m sure he’ll get quicker as the weekend progresses, as will the whole field once the track is cleaned.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my floating prose, and that the first/second sessions have been an enjoyable watch. But for now,

Thank you for reading!

Liam.

Advertisements

Under the Lights.

93-marc-marquez-espdsc_9346.gallery_full_top_fullscreen

Magic Marquez – Credit to MotoGP.com

The 2017 MotoGP season gets underway tomorrow, with FP1 for all 3 classes taking place on a Thursday to allow for the particular circumstances required for the Qatari round. If you are unaware, and as you can see in the glorious photo above, the opening weekend is run entirely beneath the floodlights.

Since 2004 MotoGP has raced at the Losail International Circuit, however it was only in 2008 that the switch to a night time setting came into being. Given that the 5.4 kilometre track is situated within the middle of a mostly featureless desert, it is probably easy to understand why such a change took place.

Whatever the reason may be, the slight change in the schedule is due to something known as the ‘Dew Point’ and it is comparable to riding over black ice or an oil/diesel spillage; especially when you consider the slick tyres.

From what I can recall, this particular time tends to be at 11PM and as such the track action generally wraps up well before then; but I’m pretty sure the final Moto2 has been caught out by it on a number of occasions due to delays/stoppages.

Enough about the intricacies! If you’d like more information about this particular round, or want to take a look at the schedule yourself, as I have failed to mention one particular thing, then you can find the information here: MotoGP Official.

I‘m not even sure where to begin with laying out my feelings for the season ahead, there are a lot of nuances and surprising performances throughout testing that has left me questioning. However, perhaps the strongest and most obvious indication for a title challenge is that of Maverick Viñales.

25-maverick-vinales-esp-42-alex-rins-espdsc_6156.gallery_full_top_lg

Maverick following his old steed and rookie Alex Rins – Credit to MotoGP.com

Out of the three official tests, he was the quickest overall and despite that not really meaning all that much; it’s still impressive. It is certainly fair to question whether a rider is really all that quick if he just tops one session, maybe he made the most of the conditions or had the right tyre? Maybe he was on a qualifying run whilst the others were focusing on race pace?

Good things to speculate over, but across three completely different circuits and conditions; Maverick managed to pull out a time quicker than anyone else on a machine which he isn’t fully familiar with. It’s fair to say and mention also at this point that the two rookies within Tech 3 for this season, Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger, have also shown a surprising amount of speed. Perhaps hinting further towards the train of thought that the Yamaha is ultimately the friendliest and most adaptable bike to ride.

Focusing on the Yamaha team as a whole, it looks as though they are certainly in a strong position to retain the manufacturer’s title for this season. Despite losing Lorenzo to the Ducati factory outfit, Viñales looks more than capable of filling the space and Rossi (despite some rather worrying articles) is always a man for the Sunday special. Additionally, if both Zarco and Folger improve from their already promising start then I can’t really see past them.

However, the beasts from Bologna might have something to say about that this season. Although it would be unfair to expect Jorge to fully wrestle with and conquer the Desmosedici ’17 within this season, let alone Qatar, this particular track is well suited to the bike. Andrea Dovizioso, a household name almost, coming close to claiming the win in 2015 and finishing 2nd to Lorenzo (then of Yamaha) last season.

99-jorge-lorenzo-espdsc_9459.gallery_full_top_fullscreen

Testing times ahead for Lorenzo? – Credit to MotoGP.com

I say this mostly due to the pace of Alvaro Bautista, a man who was somewhat unceremoniously dumped by Aprillia and now finds himself aboard Gresini’s ’16 Ducati for the season ahead. He has seemingly gelled with his new charge and again, like Viñales has consistently been towards the top of the testing time sheets. The only issue that does arise when you consider an older machine, is that the development cycle has likely ended and whilst those aboard the new machines receive updates and get progressively quicker; riders such as Redding, Abraham, Baz and Barbera will likely find the gap to the factory teams increasing.

Credit where credit is due, Dorna is perhaps the best organiser of any racing series currently at keeping a relatively level playing field with regards to Satellite machinery. MotoGP is still a place where you can witness something special, think of Miller at Assen last season or both Baz and Barbera finishing 4th and 5th respectively in Brno. So, there is a chance!

I think that is a good place to conclude the preview, although there are notable exceptions which I hope to focus on and provide some insight on for tomorrow. But at that point it may just become an FP1/2/Moto3/Moto2 mishmash.

Again, I thank you for taking an interest in my blog and for reading!

Liam.

IMG_1632

Hadria – ‘The dark one’

Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Jesus I couldn’t even remember this blog!

It’s slightly odd to read something that is so dated, with regards to how I am now and what my situation was at that time. In many respects I didn’t really have a lot to moan about or feel sorry about myself with 4 years ago, I think it was just teenage angst.

I think the biggest change in my life since then has been getting a motorcycle and even that only happened relatively recently. It was at this point last year that I began the journey of acquiring my license and after 5 attempts on the practical tests I eventually passed in August!

I already had my bike lined up, a beautiful CBR500R which will be visible in my profile picture if the bloody thing works. Since that time I’ve already accrued nearly 3000 miles of experience in the seat, but I am painfully aware of how little I know.

Now I know compared to things like marriage or a child or… other responsible things, getting a motorcycle probably isn’t something that many would think is life affirming. But then in some ways, maybe it is? It’s usually something that a guy does when he reaches ‘that age’ and wants to do something that he’d always yearned to; but at this point he has a beer belly and a poor CBT puts him off the idea entirely.

Motorsport was such a big part, and still is, of my life that I spent every car journey remarking about a passing bike. “That’ll be me one day”, “God I can’t wait to get one”, they were so frequent in my dialect that anyone would think I was a tape recorder stuck on repeat. I will admit that I still say things in a similar vein, although now it tends to be “Phwoar that’s a nice bike” or “Why don’t I have one of those?”

It’s true that my treatment of blogging and writing in general has been rather neglectful, I’ve always wanted to be able to write about my experiences. This is not through an inability too I guess, rather one of motivation and whether I remember too.

But with any luck, this ‘Second Coming’ of the intriguio page will be a renaissance. I can now hopefully provide some of my own personal insight into the worlds of MotoGP (mainly), WSBK and the BSB; along with perhaps passing observations on the spectrum of 4  wheeled series too.

I recognise that this is more of a diary for me at this point as nobody has looked at this page since 2014, but to anyone reading in the future I thank you for taking an interest in my space and hope you enjoy my prose!

Thanks.

Liam.

Ciao!

Greetings,

Image

From Silverstone. Shot by yours truly.

Welcome to what I hope will be a creative and successful display of what exactly it is that I do.

What interests me. Why I do the things that I do. How I see the world.

Now of course, you would have to be an ignorant fool to assume that this is the only place where one can find such personal prose. Every man and his dog can now open a WordPress or Blogger or Twitter page. What I aim to bring is nothing different.

I’m simply going to be me. And whether it’s original or not(who is these days?) will not phase me. It’s more of an exercise for my own health, as I have reached a point where I’m wallowing in an anxious pool of loneliness as time passes by; with only the temptation of the rising sun to soothe my ailing mind.

Poetic stuff? Too right!

I guess I should get started really.

I’m Liam. I live in the CoD renowned Cathedral City of Hereford. It isn’t a bad place to live, obviously there’s about a thousand places which are worse. But there’s always something to grumble about.

I finished my Advanced Levels in English Language and Medieval History this year, subjects which will raise a few eyebrows when I reveal that I have no intention of going to University. They were subjects for the pure joy of studying them. They interest me. Although I may have only achieved C’s, I still feel it’s an achievement. I hadn’t really revised for either, so it felt like a victory.

I know our generation gets a lot of stick for: “Doing just enough to get by.” But isn’t that the point? You can force yourself to live. To succeed. But you put yourself through that stress for self-fulfillment. I guess some people can live with that. I have enough stress deciding whether or not to buy petrol; purely for the self-conscious thoughts of, “What if..”

I drive around wearing red pumps. That also factors into my thought process. I don’t quite have the appearence of a geriatric patient as of yet; but my driving shoes certainly would give cause for thought.

I very rarely socialise. It’s the main reason why I’m writing this. My most meaningful conversations have been with myself. My little pep talks. It’s not that I’m OVERTLY shy or quiet. If somebody talks to me, I may even be more social than some people. And if a situation warrants a conversation, or I feel the need to say something. Then sure. I’ve just never really reveled in a chance acquaintance’s presence.

Similarly. Hereford. The general folk who go into clubs here feel the need to assert themselves by grunting and waving their ‘muscles’. I’d sooner start a conversation with a rock.

So. I’m not here for anyone’s affection. But if you wish to be affectionate, it wouldn’t go unnoticed. (LOVE ME).

This is it for my first post. It is.. Monday 19th November 2012.

Four weeks until Christmas.

Tomorrow, I’ll either grumble about work or my car. Or both.

Stay classy.