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Mid-Season Score Card

The absence of Marc MARQUEZ has created one of the most unpredictable and exciting MotoGP seasons in recent memory, the action has been unbelievable. Yet it must be said that no one rider has really stepped up to take on the mantel of class leader, in fact it has almost seemed like no one actually wants to win the 2020 MotoGP title. So with 7 rounds run and another 7 to go, we thought we give each rider a score card out of 10 on their season so far. Andrea DOVIZIOSO – 5.5 5.5 might seem a little harsh for the man currently leading the championship. We just think Desmo Dovi has just been too inconsistent in terms of raw pace. Clearly there are a lot of politics in the Ducati camp and Dovi has struggled to find a good base setting for the 2020 machine. However, Dovi has been Ducati’s num 1 rider for years plus he has had a lot of say in their development path. Dovi has had a lot of time and opportunities to get the job done. With Marquez away he should be running away with this title, but he is not.' Fabio QUARTARARO 6.2 Last years rookie sensation hit the ground running at the beginning of this season. Quartararo was in scintillating form, after the first 2 rounds he had bagged the maximum available 50 points. Since then though, he has only managed a further 33 points within 5 races which has included 2 x DNFs that were his own fault. Fabio’s pace has remained quite strong however he needs to deliver solid points even when he and his Petronas SRT Yamaha isn’t the strongest package. In Misano 1, while he crashed out from a silly self-inflected error his teammate went on to comfortably win the grand prix. Misano 2 he lost the podium because apparently didn’t see the warning on his dash. While the track limits rule may suck but a rider knows when they are exceeding track limits and shouldn’t need to see a warning. Still 2020 has seen him take his first 2 MotoGP victories so there are positives but he needs to deliver more. Maverick VIÑALES – 7.5* We found scoring Maverick a little hard. On one side of the fence a rider of his experience should be constantly delivering come Sunday. Apparently following Misano 2 Mav and team are confident they have found a solution to his lack of Sunday pace. The jury is still out on that one. On the other side of the fence Mav has had some serious difficulties to deal with. In recent times facing the media scrutiny on his lack of Sunday pace and let’s not forget what happened at the Red Bull Ring. First, he was nearly decapitated by Zarco’s Ducati, then the following weekend he suffered brake failure at nearly 300Km/h. Those incidents in quick succession would rattle anyone. The fact that Maverick bounced back with 2 x Pole positions and a race win last weekend is why we have scored him higher than his Sunday form warrants. That shows some serious determination. *Maverick also score extra credit for his dismount when his brakes failed. It was very quick thinking, well executed and saved him from very serious injury. Marc MARQUEZ– 4.5 He might be absent, but we are still going to score the 8 times world champion. First off, he should score 20 out of 10 for that absurd front end save at Jerez in the first round. Then a 15 out of 10 for his fight back through the field before it all went wrong. While the mistakes were of his own doing, it is now very clear to how much he has been out riding the Honda. The reason we have scored him so low was his attempted comeback and what that approach has done to his recovery time. While at the time it may have seemed heroic it was a massive injury and if you took a proper step back you could see how equally absurd the attempted comeback was. If instead he rested properly straight away, he might well already be back and still have an outside chance of the title. Marquez’s win at all costs mentally was always going to catch up with him at some point. Joan MIR – 8.2 Joan Mir entered the MotoGP with a lot of hype surrounding him and now we are starting to see why. We have to remember Mir suffered big injuries in the post-race test at Bruno in 2019, from which he has steadily climbed his way back to form. The Vinales brake failure and subsequent red flag cost him a certain victory in the Styrian Grand Prix. On the negative side Mir has crashed out of a race twice this year, first in the first round at Jerez and second at the Chec Grand Prix. In the 5 other grand prix Joan has finished in the top 5, twice on the podium and if wasn’t for that red flag he’d probably be leading the championship. One lap qualifying pace has been a struggle for the Suzuki’s however Mir more than makes up for it with his canny race craft and super ballsy, yet calculated passes that stick! If it wasn’t for the 2 crashes Mir would have scored well into the 9s and is still our highest scorer on this list. Franco Morbidelli – 7.8 Franco’s break through win at Misano was simply a master class. Everyone watching the race probably expected Morbidelli to fade as the race went on, but he actually got stronger. He didn’t get to back up that strong performance due to illness and Aleix Esparagaro almost taking him out on lap one. Franco suffered a mechanical DNF while in 4th place in the 2nd Jerez Grand Prix and who could forget that frightening incident with Zarco at the Red Bull Ring. Another positive was his pace at Brno where he finished a strong 2nd to the brilliant Brad Binder. It’s been a strong 3rd year for Franco in MotoGP Jack MILLER – 7.3 Our own Jack Miller has had a pretty dam good season so far. While jack is still having probably a few too many crashes they are becoming less frequent on race day. His ability to dust himself off and push through the pain barrier has also been very impressive. Jack has had great pace most of the time and when he hasn’t he is still scoring points rather than throwing it away as he used to do all too often. Tyre management over race distance remains and area Miller needs to continue to work but the progress from jack has been positive. If it wasn’t for retched luck last weekend at Misano Jack would be higher than 6th in the points right now. Takaaki NAKAGAMI - 7.1 Taka has had flashes of brilliance this year holding up the HRC banner quite well. Nakagami also doesn’t get enough praise for how much he has had to fight his own injury battles following his off season shoulder surgery. The Honda has been a hard to handle bike and young Taka has done it best of all so far, we give him more than a pass mark. NO IMAGE AVAILABLE AS CAMERAS ARE NOT PERMITTED IN HOSPTIAL Cal CRUTCHLOW – 1.3 Sorry Crutchlow fans but it seems that Cal has spent more time injured over the last 4 years than fit. There is no doubting his pace on his day, but those days are just too far and few between these days. Now we learn he has ruptured his left ankle ligaments as he slipped in the paddock upon his arrival to Circuit de Catalunya. Seriously you would think MotoGP 2020 is a scripted sitcom rather than real life sport. Maybe it’s time for Cal to return to WSBK, either that or take up permanent residency in a hospital? Miguel OLIVEIRA – 6.5 (7.5) It’s been a bit of a yoyo season for Miguel, he has taken his first ever MotoGP win but also has had his fair share of bad luck and inconsistent results. Twice he has been taken out by one of the KTM factory riders. His win in the Styrian Grand Prix was clever but a little bit of a Bradbury taking advantage of others tripping over each other rather than having outright race winning pace, still you have to be able to take advantage of those situation. We would have scored Oliveira 7.5 instead of 6.5 if it wasn’t for his post-race win celebrations. Miguel you’re not Gene Simmons, no one needs to see that much of your tongue. Valentino ROSSI – 6.9 The doctor has had a pretty consistent season, often having strong race pace albeit not race winning pace. He has been the top Yamaha more than once; he made a rare mistake crashing out last weekend and has also had a DNF due to a mechanical failure on his M1. All things considered, in terms of pace this has been one of Rossi’s stronger seasons in recent years. Rossi also seems to have more of his old humor back too. Pol ESPARGARO – 6.5 Scoring Pol was hard to be honest. We have been very critical him this year with his silly mistakes under pressure and his carry on afterwards. Deservedly so we might add. He has had strong pace but has to push so hard in order to obtain that pace that he is crashing frequently. At least he openly admits this. Pol has scored 2 podiums this year and his last one was brilliant. The length of time he held off Quartararo after his tyre had completely fallen off the cliff was very impressive. Under heavy pressure he made no mistakes and kept fighting even though it was a battle he was always going to lose. Fighting so hard meant he was close enough to capitalise on Fabio’s post-race penalty, that’s the sort of ride we need to see from Pol more often than not. Well done! Brad BINDER – 8.0 The brilliant Binder scores high in our midyear assessment as we are putting it in context, this is his rookie season! It’s not up to him to play smart or consistent yet, it’s up to him to make his mark and find pace in the MotoGP class. His win a Brno was on pure pace and merit, it was nothing short of brilliant! He has made a few errors and taken a couple of riders out but that’s what we would expect from a rookie. His goal should be finding pace. We love his no nonsense approach we just need to see better qualifying pace to score him any higher, which he started to show at the most recent round. Alex RINS – 5.0 Rins has been injured for most of the season so scoring him with a 5.0 is more about the injury than being an outright reflection on his performance. He did crash out of contention while challenging for the win against Dovi in the Austrian GP, while it was a mistake it was good to see him up there. Let’s see how the second half of the season pans out for Alex. Johann ZARCO – 4.8 Zarco has shown awesome pace at times but has been far too inconsistent in terms of results for a rider of his experience. He is riding more like a rookie than an experienced 2-time world champion. There has already been so much talk about the incidents Johann has been involved in, rather than recap all that we are simply looking at the amount of point Zarco has amassed. Simply not enough for the pace he can have at times. Hard charger but too much inconsistency. We would have scored him lower if it was not for his grit riding with a fractured scaphoid in the Styrian Grand Prix. Danilo PETRUCCI – 4.0 This hasn’t been the best season for the likeable Petrucci unfortunately. Danilo has finished all but one race this year yet sits 14th in the championship standings and he is on a factory bike. He has been very consistent, just consistently slow. On the plus, Danilo is leading the competition to see which rider can stick out their leg the furthest. It's clearly working for him. Francesco BAGNAIA – 7.4 Pecco has come on super strong this year. His pace at Misano was brilliant, especially considering he is recovering from a fractured leg. He has often been the fastest or one of the fastest Ducati’s and surely is in the box seat to take the 2nd Factory bike in 2021? His injuries are of his own doing though, he did crash out of the lead last weekend and missing as much of the season as he has it’s hard to score him higher. Super impressive though! Alex MARQUEZ – 6.0 As with Binder, we are scoring Alex in context. Rookie season, thrown into the factory team and on the difficult to ride Honda. Not to mention the pressure of being in Marc’s shadows. Alex’s qualifying pace has been poor but that’s probably as much down to his machine than just him. Where the KTM and Yamaha are easier for rookies to get along with, the Honda seems to be the opposite. Alex is starting to come along so let’s see how he develops over the second half of the season. Aleix ESPARGARO 3.0 We are not going to waste too many words on this guy. There is no doubt he can be very fast when it doesn’t count but we are just sick of his carrying on. Last weekend he crashed out, almost took Franco with him and then cried like a baby on return to the pits. Aleix has also continued his usual getting in people’s way during qualifying. Iker LECUONA – 5.5 There was a lot discussion whether or not Iker deserved his MotoGP ride or not. In his rookie season he has been fast but has also crashed a lot. We need to see a bit more before we can give him a proper score. Bradley SMITH – 3.2 Sure it’s a fill in ride while Andrea IANNONE serves his doping ban, so on merit Smith probably wouldn’t have a MotoGP ride. Bradley is always at the back of the field but not stupidly off the pace. At times his within 0.5sec of his fast teammate but without all the rubbish carry on. Smith has long been a golden boy in Dorna’s eyes and probably gotten a little further in his career than he would have without. Still he is a decent rider but when it comes to MotoGP he is only filling up grid slots at this point in his career. NO IMAGE AVAILABLE - PHOTOGRAPHER HAD GONE HOME BY THE TIME TITO CAME PAST Tito RABAT – 1.0 Rabat once promised a lot especially after being a Moto2 world champion, in 2020 we are still waiting to see it. It is hard to score him because the TV cameras don’t seem to go that for back. On the plus Tito can smash a bike as good as anyone. NO IMAGE AVAILABLE - SEE ABOVE Stefan BRADL – 2.0 We can forget that Stefan Bradl is a former Moto2 world champion and was fighting with Marc Marquez back in those days. He was a one time HRC golden boy however time has shown he was probably only gold plated rather than pure gold. He has been carrying an injury so we can’t judge him too hard and at least he hasn’t wrecked all of Marc’s bikes…yet. As always please feel free to share your own views with us too 😊

Body Position & Lean Angle – Part 1 Understanding the Keys

Mega lean angle, great body position, knee down and these days elbow down and that leg dangle thing. These are things a lot of us crave. Especially if there is a photographer keen to snap up some action images. So what’s the deal, how important is it and what it the right way to learn it? The goal dictates the method In order to answer these questions, the first thing you need to decide is what is your ultimate goal? Is it to be as fast as you can, using body position as a tool to become faster? And if one day that leads to a great riding style bonus! Or just to have better photos than your mates and look as cool as you can without being too worried about your lap time? Whatever the answer cool, you do you. However, if you are only interested in appearances and not speed, then this is not the article for you. We always put speed and lap time 1st, appearances 2nd. It’s just how we roll. Warning – There is Big Trap Before we go any further, we need to discuss the biggest trap you will face, hanging off too much for your level and speed. Yep, there is such a thing as hanging off too much and it’s a very common trap many riders fall into. Surely the more you hang off the better right? No, that’s not the case at all. In fact, how much you should hang off its directly related to your speed. Instead of worrying about how much you are hanging off you should: · Focus on learning the key principles, they are easy and fun. · Work on them until they are set in stone · Then move onto learning how to ride faster. This is easier than you think and fun. · As you become faster you will naturally hang off more without the need to even think about it · Let your natural flare stand out and evolve, embrace it. Riding style is not a one size fits all deal. Natural Flare Why is natural flare so important? In short, feel. Riding a motorcycle has an innate or feel component. The better you understand your motorcycle and what it needs from you, the better and faster you will ride. This is what true rider feel is. (Innate just means natural for those thinking wtf is this innate rubbish) Let us take an extreme example. A Ducati MotoGP bike cannot be ridden the same way as the Yamaha M1. The rider needs to adapt right? The better ‘feel’ a rider has the quicker they will adapt. This is why riders so set in their existing ways can take a long time to adapt to change. One of the reasons riders who learn to ride from an early age normally end up being so fast is they develop natural feel without the barrier of adult conscious thought. Adults can still learn but they must embrace their natural feel and control their conscious thought. Feel comes from the sub conscious not the conscious mind. Take a look at the elite level of any sport on the planet. Be it football, tennis and of course our own MotoGP. The very best have their own style or twist on it. Compare Marc Marquez and Alex Rins, they have such different styles, yet they are both mega fast. Compare Roger Federer and Raffa Nadal, same deal. Some coaching techniques go a bit too far and stifle your feel. Just be aware of that. Basic Physics It’s a bit more complex than what we will cover here but this is riding lesson not a physics lesson 😊 First, the more you hang off the easier and faster a bike will turn. While these may seem like great reasons to hang off as much as you can, there are a couple of negative side effects. The more you hang off, the more unstable the bike becomes, making it easier to fall over. From our years of research falling over isn’t very desirable. Secondly there is such a thing as turning too fast. This is where our best buddy speed comes in to help. The faster you are travelling the more stable the bike becomes and the slower it will turn. Speed counteracts the negative side effects of hanging off. Thus, used together they equal awesomeness. Centrifugal Force The main reason a bike will turn easier and faster if you hang off is the impact it has on centrifugal force. Centrifugal force acts on any object moving in a circular motion. In this case you and your motorbike in a corner. The force tries to send the object further away from the centre point or to the ‘outside’. The greater the distance from the centre point to the objects centre of gravity (COG), the greater the centrifugal force. As you hang off, you shift the centre of gravity inwards which lessens the affect of the centrifugal force. We can take this a step further by looking at vertical. We can see the distance between the centre point and COG if further reduced. Plus it puts the overall weight of you and your motorcycle in a much better area to counteract the centrifugal force. Side note: Speed also massively effects centrifugal force, the faster you a travelling the greater the force. Vertical Stability While the physics behind centrifugal force make it seem there are only positives to hanging off, here comes the vertical stability component. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out if you sit upright on a stool you’ll be perfectly ok. Yet if you hang off massively to one side, you’ll tip over and look like a massive dickhead. In motion there are just a couple of things stopping your motorbike from falling over. A force called the gyroscopic effect and our own balance. The gyroscopic effect is created by the wheels rotating and this force will always try to make the bike stand upright. The faster they rotate, the bigger the effect and more stable the bike becomes. You can search the interweb thingy if you want to learn more about the gyroscopic effect. So, the slower you are travelling, the easier for the bike to fall into a corner due to the lack of gyroscopic effect. While you may think the more a bike wants to fall into a turn or lean over the better, think back to the stool example. You will feel the same sort of instability and nervousness. Some riders have better balance than others. The better your balance the easier you can deal with this instability, but you will still be slow. Learning better balance is a positive however your primary focus should be giving the bike what it really needs. The more stable the platform, the more we can hang off even if your balance isn’t the best. Speed is our friend for this, speed is also our best friend when it comes to lap time. Lean Angle Lean angle serves only one purpose, to allow us to turn. The best example you can use to demonstrate this is a flat top cone, something like a cup. Place a cup on its side and rotate it, it will turn toward the direction of the smaller end, always. This is the same thing that happens to your bike when leant over. The tyres act the same way the cup does. The more you lean it over, the faster the bike will turn. Turning Too Fast Now I hope you are sitting down and ready for this. This may be a little bit of a brain bender for people who have been taught or studied ‘quick steering’ or have been told the faster you steer a bike the better. As long are you are riding on planet earth the laws of physics will always apply. As we have briefly touched on so far, the faster you’re travelling the slower a bike will steer. Thus, in order for you to steer ‘faster’ you’ll need to slow down! Now as sure as Batman and Robin’s costumes are too tight, slowing to ‘steer fast’ will hurt your lap time every day of the week. There a few exceptions mid turn when we are talking more advance riding but not in terms of entry speed with the sole purpose of trying to steer fast. The only thing quick steering will help with is letting faster riders pass you easier. Another drawback of turning too fast is it can mess up your race line. A Quick Summary More speed creates a more stable platform. Hanging off a stable platform is much easier than an unstable platform Hanging off an unstable platform feels awkward and nervous More speed = slower turning Turning too fast is a problem Greater lean angle = faster turning Hanging off = Faster tuning If you hang off too much without enough speed you will be putting more effort into supporting yourself due to the lack of stability. You will also need to put effort in so the bike doesn’t apex too early. Thus the amount you need to lean the bike over and hang off is dictated by your speed. It’s no coincidence that MotoGP riders are stupid fast while making dragging their elbow look so easy. Speed, required lean angle and how much you should hang off are all connected. Still not sure? Best example I ever had of this principle was coaching a fella John Kranz at Baskerville in Tasmania. Baskerville is mostly left handers, his only goal for the coaching day was to finally get his right knee down. He had been getting his left knee down for years but could never get his right one down. He thought it had something to do with not practicing right handers enough or his ‘style’ in right handers. When I followed him my first thought was “shit this dude is pretty quick! I better put my skates on to keep up with him”. We got back around to turn 1 & 2, the only right handers on the circuit, I nearly t-boned him. He was that slow in them compared to the rest of the circuit. I sat him down, gave him some vision things to work on and put a rocket up him about his lack of speed into turn 1. I didn’t even address anything to do with his body position or riding ‘style’ or any of that crap. Just his entry speed and mind set. Next session, he went back out…. And got his right knee down for the first time after years and years of trying. The missing ingredient was speed. The Technique Doesn’t Change Now the good thing about learning to hang off is the basic principles don’t change from a beginner to a pro. Think about it like bench pressing, you wouldn’t try to bench press 120kg in your first week ever at the gym would you? Nor should you hang off heaps when you are a novice or intermediate rider. The amount changes over time and experience, however the basic technique remains the same. Which style works best? While there are many different specific riding styles out there, they can be categorised into 3 main styles. 1. Leaning in with the upper part of your body 2. Leaning in with your bum 3. Leaning in equally with your upper and lower body Each has its pros and cons, selecting which to use is as simple as what feels more natural for you. Favouring your natural tendency will far outweigh any negatives that come with the style you choose. Plus as you develop you will end up with the bit of a hybrid anyway but you will always favour one of these. Some examples of style 1 · Marc Marquez · Maverick Vinales · Casey Stoner · Scott Redding Some Examples of Style 2 · Mick Doohan · Troy Bayliss · Alex Rins · Jack Miller (although he is a bit more 2 & 3) Some Example of Style 3 · Valentino Rossi · Jonny Rea · Jorge Lorenzo All of these guys are mega in their own right and there are 14 billion world titles between them all. So what feel more natural is most important than which you choose. The reason they all work comes down to the basic physics of it. In the horizontal plane moving the centre of gravity to roughly 45deg from the head stem is ideal. While in the vertical plane again about 45deg from head stem downward is ideal Style 1 is the best in the horizontal plane, while the worst in the vertical. Style 2 is the best in the vertical but the worst in the horizontal. Style 3 is not ideal in either nor is it the worst in either so it also works. Marquez has developed a really low-down version of style 1, the physics of it definitely help him with his ridiculous 14km front end saves. Stoner had a really extenuated version of style 1 using his upper body to get the centre of gravity in a really good spot to be able to slide the rear, definitely a contributing factor to why he really came alive once he got onto the bigger higher powered bikes. The Leg Dangle There are a fair few different interpretations of why the leg dangle works and is used. There are a few factors in favour of it. · Where it places the Centre of Gravity · At really high braking g-force it can be hard to keep your inside leg on the peg with anything to support it if you are properly locked in. Over time can cause a bit of cramp in the groin. · Can look cool There are also some draw backs. · You have to get your foot back on before you turn in (any extra work you need to do takes time) · You can’t use the rear brake (unless you have thumb brake) or gear lever while doing it · You will look like a flog doing it when you are slow, sorry but you will. The leg dangle is best left until you are going so fast that it feels hard to keep your inside leg on the peg and it feel natural to let it go. We hope this theory has help clarify of few things for you. If you would like some practical exercises and specific methods to get your body position down pat, we have put together part 2 & part 3 in video format for our Race School subscribers. Not only with these tips help with you body position, they will also make you faster! Race School is just $99 for a 12 month subscription GO TO RACE SCHOOL for Part 2 & 3 full videos Or check out the sample video

Form Guide – San Marino Grand Prix

Mav – Top Gun Surely there isn’t a soul who would begrudge Maverick VIÑALES’ brilliant pole position for San Marino Grand Prix. The fella with arguably the coolest name in MotoGP, produced a scintillating 1.31.411 around the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli to take pole by 0.3 of second. As we predicted earlier in the week, the freshly resurface Misano circuit has been a Yamaha fest so far with all 4 Yamaha’s on the grid filling the top 4 positions. Seeing Mav in P1 on the time sheets was super nice considering what he has been through in recent times. After 2 near death experiences, 2 weeks in a row Maverick probably would have been happy enough if his brakes worked more often than not this weekend. So to see him in top form with great race pace, one lap pace and what seems to be a load of confidence is really, really cool. Normally we are a little critical of riders who celebrate a pole position too much, especially when they have a record of not delivering the goods on a Sunday. However, in this case Mav’s celebrations were completely warranted and seeing it definitely brought a smile to our faces. From a mindset perspective we also think letting all the built up emotion out will serve him very well for the 27 lap race. Maverick will be a contender. MORBIDELLI – Nothing to Lose While we predicted the Blu Cru boys would be strong, we didn’t expect to see Franco in P2 if we are honest. We expected his teammate to comfortably have his measure, particularly in qualifying but that was not to be. After that monster coming together with Zarco and all the politics that followed Franco seems to be in a happy head space, plus he has nothing to lose either. He currently sits 11th in the championship and his seat is secured for next year, thus there isn’t a lot of pressure on him at the moment. He will need to find a bit of extra-long run pace if he is to be a contender for the race win. We have him down as a podium chance rather than a contender for the win. El’ DIABLO – A must to Pounce Championship leader Fabio QUARTARARO has been in hot form in every session this weekend and needs to capitalise whenever his Yamaha package is strong. The Misano circuit really suits the sweet handling M1 and this is an opportunity for Fabio to cement his place as championship favourite. Regardless of what unfolds he needs to be in the battle for the win and ideally needs to finish in the top 2. The Doctor – Primed for Surgery Valentino has also been in very strong form this weekend. Something to really take note of is the fact Rossi was on the pace as early as FP2. These days it normally takes the Doctor a little longer to find his mojo and we often see him in Q1. Not this weekend, Vale has had good long run pace as well as one lap pace almost from the get go. While it has been a long time since Rossi has fought for race wins, he has done it so often over such a long career he will not have forgotten how. The issue the Doctor normally faces these days is his pace, not his mental strength. When it comes to performing when it counts on a Sunday, Valentino is a blue-chip performer. He will be a real threat this weekend and we wouldn't be at all surprised to see him fighting for the win. Thriller Miller As predicted, it hasn’t been easy going for Jack this weekend, on top of that he had another fall in FP3. Still he has shown some decent pace even when being a little inconsistent and he delivered the goods when it counted being the first non-Yamaha in P5. We can’t really see Jack having the pace to fight for the win or podium on true merit, but this is a big weekend for him to deliver a strong result. Jack also needs to keep his head so that he can pick up any crumbs should the boys in blue trip over one another. After all, the new re-surface has resulted in a lot of new bumps. Bumps plus hard braking pass attempts often end in tears. Top Step for Top Gun It’s impossible to pick a winner this weekend with any real confidence. We all know that Mav’s Sunday performances have let him down in recent years, which is a real shame. He is so talented yet hasn’t delivered on the promise he showed when he first joined Yamaha. As we started typing this little form guide our money was on Fabio but we are going to put our hopes on Maverick to take the win. Good luck Top Gun, Mav on the top step? We would like to see that Who’s your tip?

Miller Time

Jack Miller has always been a bit of a puzzle. Supremely talented but is he the real deal? Amazing on his day but is he good enough to win a MotoGP world championship? In short, our belief, yes he is! One of the best Grand Prix rides in any class we can remember in recent history was Miller’s 2014 Moto3 win at Phillip Island. Under massive pressure to perform in front of his home crowd and still in the title hunt, Miller produced to goods to take a throttling win. He was engaged in a race long freight train with his slower KTM clearly down on power on the straights, yet he found a way to win against the odds and take the title fight down to the wire. His race craft and determination were 2nd to none! For anyone that has never seen that ride, watch a replay if you can, it was awesome. So can he take that next step? Here are 5 things to consider. 1 - The Deep End Jack Miller is the only rider on the current MotoGP grid that went straight from Moto3 to MotoGP, skipping Moto2. The option for Jack to jump straight to MotoGP from Moto3 in 2015 was one he probably couldn’t refuse. Especially seeing there was a HRC contract waived in front of him. That said, missing Moto2 would have an impact, no matter how good you are. There are skills you learn on a middle weight bike that serve you for the rest of your riding career. Sure you can learn the same skills on a bigger bike but it takes longer. Why? Speed perception and the ability for the brain to process things quickly. No one is immune to this, no one. It’s just how the brain works. Having to learn the entire MotoGP tech and speed perception all at once is a monumental task. Jack is in his 6th season of MotoGP now however due to his path, purely from an expectation level we think it should be seen as if he is only in his 3rd year. 2 – He didn’t Drown Jack is starting to shine, getting better and better. Yes he has crashed too often at critical times in a Grand Prix however when you put the path he has taken into perspective that is more than understandable. Not only did he survive his jump into the deep end, he had to deal with contract negotiations year to year to keep his place on MotoGP grid. The reward for learning to swim in the deep end with the sharks is he actually has 5 years MotoGP experience under his belt now. 3 – Ducati’s Main Man Jack Miller should now be Ducati’s main focus. He is confirmed factory rider for 2021 and Dovi is on his way out after a bit of a public spat with The factory. Furthermore Jack was faster than Dovi on pure speed at the Styrian Grand Prix, a track Dovi has been very strong on in the past. Being only 14 point off the championship lead, there can be no doubt that Jack will receive the full weight of the Bologna factory behind him. 4 – No Marc Anyone who thinks that the eventual 2020 MotoGP world champion only won it because Marc wasn’t there is being unfair. Sure if Marc was on the grid he would be at the front, no one would deny that. Marc crashed and injured himself all of his own doing. Yes he rode a brilliant race in Jerez before his crash and that front end save was utterly ridiculous, wow that was really out of this world. However, every rider faces the same risks week in and week out. Part of wining a championship is staying fit enough to ride. Marc has got away with a lot of crashes over the years, unfortunately he finally got caught out. All that said, no Marc on the grid does give the young crop of riders fresh hope. 5 – Belief No one denies Jack Miller is a ruthless hard charger with tonnes of bravery and skill. Yet to this date Miller has never been in a realistic shot of the title, now he is. With that comes added pressure, does he have the true inner belief to face this challenge? This weekend we return to Misano, a track the outrageously fast championship leader Fabio QUARTARARO finished 2nd last year. In fact, all 4 Yamaha’s finished in the top 5 in 2019, only the great Marc MARQUEZ could beat them. Sure the Yamaha’s are struggling this year with their usual lack of power and their latest feature, the ultra high tech part time braking system. Still this is a track they will be strong. And so too will the sweet handling KTM’s. In 2019 Jack finished 26 secs off the lead in 9th place, in 2018 19th and 50secs off the lead. Misano has not been a happy hunting ground for Miller in recent years. Jack could be facing a difficult weekend coming. Can he find the pace to be competitive at Misano? And if not, does he have the inner belief to stay positive and deliver a performance that will keep his championship alive? We believe he can but let us know what you think? One thing is for sure, we’ll be cheering for Thriller Miller!

Why 3rd May Prove Better for Pol

It’s not very often we’d say a 3rd place is a better outcome for a rider than 1st. It might sound a little crazy but Pol Espargaró’s 3rd place at the Styrian Grand Prix is exactly the outcome he needed. Again a little bit of controversy related to Pol, Suzuki calling for him to penalised for using the ‘green’ on the last corner but we’ll touch on that bit at the end. More than a Pass Mark We have been critical of the 2013 Moto2 world champion of late, rightly so too. It hasn’t just been his on-track performances, some of his off track carry on has let him down and won no fans either. This was not the case last weekend. While there were still a few small mistakes under pressure and he was on the receiving end of the bit of luck, he delivered a great pole position and a much-needed podium in Sunday’s race. Even more pleasing was the fact that he finally left his excuse book at home! What a pleasant change. Pol was measured and humble in defeat. His post-race interview was brilliant, accepting his defeat as just good hard racing. He also gave credit and commiserations to Joan Mir as he was robbed of a certain victory by the red flag. He even gave his congratulations to race winner Miguel OLIVEIRA who he had been engaged in an off-track spat following the previous weekend’s clash. To top it all off, in the official press conference he was smiling and happy. Accepting Defeat A very important element to success in any sport or life itself for that matter, is the ability to accept defeat. When stripped back, pulling out the excuse book, not being humble in defeat and not taking responsibility for your own mistakes is nothing more than a lack of ability to accept your own flaws. We improve by working on our flaws and weaknesses, not from working on our strengths. The first step is to accept them. Why 3rd is better for him than the win Our philosophy on this may be a little left of field. However, if Pol had won last weekend it would have been reward for a performance that was still a little flawed. Reward for some questionable lead up behaviour and reward for a bit of luck. This might be ok for a rider capable of winning occasionally or in rare circumstances, but we believe Pol has the talent to be a regular contender. He just needs a head on his shoulders to match his ability. Sunday’s 3rd place was still a great result, enough to deliver some much-needed confidence and inner belief but not so much that it would go to his head. It was a result that gave him a real taste of fighting for the win in MotoGP, yet a reminder of just how hard it is. Key Mistakes 1. The biggest mistake came from his team rather than Pol himself. But they are a team and need to work together on it. Showing +0 on his pit board rather of the actual 0.3 it was on the last lap was a big mistake. Furthermore, the previous lap they should also should +0 when it was in fact +0.2. For a rider, the difference in seeing +0.2 with 2 laps remaining and then +0.3 on the last lap compared with +0 on both laps is huge! Especially when it is being showed to the rider who had set the fastest lap of the race and has better pace than anyone else. The mind set shift is massive, as too is how they need to approach that last lap. Showing +0 instead of +0.3 to a rider who has been under immense pressure in the lead up… hmmm big mistake. If you were going to relay inaccurate information it should give more confidence not more pressure. Still the job of the team is to relay accurate information and leave the rest to the rider. That’s what they should have done. 2. This one needs to be forgiven. Pol slightly overcooked the turn 3 apex while attempting to block the line on the way in. He was right to block because he saw +0 on his board. However he over did it, but that’s racing under a lot of pressure and he will learn from it. 3. When our man (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!) Jacky boy shoved it up the instead in the final corner. Pol would have been better to concede early and do the up and under, just like Dovi has done many times to Marc. Similar to what race winner OLIVEIRA did, he could read what was going to happen and bided his time. Still hats off to Jack and Pol for having a red hot crack and providing us with massively entertaining racing, it was so bloody good. Let’s hope the Pol Espargaró we saw last weekend is the one we see more often than not in the future. Extra note Track limits are again in the news. Suzuki and Mir are calling for Pol to have been penalised. In Moto2 race direction penalised Jorge MARTIN for exceeding track limits in the last corner (just) and he lost the win because of it. Mir himself ran off at turn 1 and needed to give the place back, yet Pol received no penalty. Our view is that both Mir and Martin exceeding track limits all on their own without any help from anyone else. Pol was forced wide by Miller. Miller did nothing wrong either, just hard racing. Last corner, last lap. Apparently the rule is if you use the green on the last lap you must lose a position. Pol went into the last turn 1st and came out 3rd so we’d leave it alone What’s you view?

Form Guide - BMW M GRAND PRIX OF STYRIA

Picking a winner for this weekend is next to impossible with it being so close at the front. Pol on Pole There has been a lot of pressure on Pol Espargaró of late, and rightly so. He has made a mess of his very strong pace in the last two Grand Prix. On top of that, some of his reactions and excuses haven’t exactly painted him the best light. Still, with all that pressure on his shoulders, last night he delivered his first ever MotoGP pole position. Is this the turning point for Pol? Or will the race distance once again prove too much pressure for him to handle? The way I see it, if he can get away at the start and build a rhythm, we could possibly see him finally win tonight. After all, he has won a world championship and 15 Grand Prix in his career, so he obviously knows how to win a race. If it’s a race long battle in a pack, I’m not so sure he will keep his head. Takaaki NAKAGAMI Taka has come on very strong in the 2nd week at the Red Bull Ring. He has had very strong one lap and long run pace. Taka has also delivered strong and consistent results in every single race this year. Best a 4th, worst 10th. Interesting, both at Jerez with the 4th place coming in the 2nd week. Again he seems to have found a lot of pace in week 2 at the same track. We say he will be adding to his career podium tally of 14 tonight but not sure he has enough to win. Joan MIR Joan rode to a killer 2nd place last weekend. He is another one that has had strong one lap and long run pace all weekend. For us, Mir is our favourite to take the win in tonight’s Grand Prix. He seems so hungry but composed at the same time. Joan is really coming on strong of late. Fabio QUARTARARO The championship leader has had a really up and down weekend so far. A 4th row start is going to make getting a decent result very hard for Fabio. Especially with the Yamaha’s lack of power. We give him an outside chance of a podium this weekend. Jack MILLER Jack is another who has had great pace all weekend and was on the podium last weekend. Unfortunately, he hurt his shoulder in FP3 and seems to be in a bit of pain. Before the injury, we had him as a contender but now worry the race distance might be a little too much for him. If it rains though, we still have him for the race win. Johann ZARCO Hats off to Zarco! Qualifying 3rd with a broken scaphoid and all the controversy he has faced this week. Well done, mega performance. Starting from pit lane will be too much for him even with great pace. Plus the injury will take it’s toll over race distance. If it rains though, keep your eyes on Zarco! Andrea DOVIZIOSO Last weekend’s race winner will be in the mix for sure. Interesting, after winning last weekend on the soft rear, Dovi spent a lot of time testing the medium rear over long runs. His pace was decent on it too! He’ll be there but we think Mir might have his measure this weekend. It will be interesting to see what tyre he chooses. Dovi is also no slouch in the wet if it happens to rain. Alex RINS You cannot rule out Rins either. Starting on the 3rd row makes it a little harder, but Alex has gotten it out of there before. Can he make amends for last weekend? Maverick VIÑALES Maverick has been fast this weekend. However, he has been far too inconsistent for us to give any real chance, especially as he normally drops like an anchor in the first few laps. One thing is for sure, it will be a stonker!!! How do you think will win??

The Verdict is in

Firstly, thank you for all the comments and opinions, even the ones that held a different view to us, we respect and appreciate your viewpoints 😊 There were 3 verdicts handed out by race direction on Thursday and Friday plus a change to the track. This is what they were, and these are our thoughts on them. We’ll leave the juicy one till last. Pol ESPARGARO and Miguel OLIVEIRA Verdict: Racing incident, no further action required Pol has made a lot of silly mistakes recently and has been equally quick to pull out the excuse book. The coming together itself, well it would have been nice to see Pol use the green strip on the outside of the ripple strip to avoid contact on re-joining but you also couldn’t expect him to use the grass. The verdict was ok and we are happy enough with it. If it was up to us though he’d be starting from the back of the grid. The reasoning is he did the same thing 2 weeks in a row and this time he wrecked someone else’s race. Both incidents were re-joining the race line after running way off line all on his own. Tough luck Pol, we believe he deserve a whack. Anyway Pol gets another chance to redeem himself this weekend, there will not many times you get 3 weekends in a row with a bike that can win to prove yourself young Pol. Get it done! His pace on Friday was shit hot. Surely he can’t stuff it up again? Danilo PETRUCCI and Aleix ESPARGARO Verdict: Petrucci received a formal written warning for his ‘gestures’, Espargaro no further action. Our view: You have to laugh a bit at this one. Firstly because it was kind of funny seeing Danilo giving Aleix the bird as he passed in pit lane, a little bit of theatre. Sure maybe not the most professional way to deal with it but nothing wrong with a bit of emotion. However if Danilo received a warning, we felt so should have Aleix. Getting a tow in qualifying is part of the sport. It’s not the prettiest part of the sport but it is part of it. Regardless, if you’re on a slow lap it’s up to you not to impede riders on fast laps. Aleix would have made Danilo hesitate and thus impeded him. Even if it was Danilo’s fastest through that sector, it may have been even faster and put him into Q2. Aleix deserved a warning and should have been told to pull his head in formally. Not from a safety perspective this time but for being such a shit guy and poor sport. Maybe he didn’t receive a warning due to his nationality? Either way it was a dog move in our books. Johann ZARCO and Franco MORBIDELLI The big one! Before we start with this one, let me just state. As soon as Dovi announced he would not be continuing with Ducati in 2021, my very first thought was “put Zarco on the factory bike”. And I still hold that view, he just needs some strong mentoring and polish. Verdict: Johann Zarco penalised for irresponsible and will start from pit lane on Sunday. Our view: Agree. While opinion is still divided and there has been further data released, our view remains the same. He wasn’t ever going to pull that move off and we will expand on why we think that in a bit. On the penalty itself, fair enough. While emotions may have led us to want a stronger penalty. This is a good start and warning. It gives Zarco an opportunity to learn as well. If he continues to try moves that don’t have any real chance of sticking and only every chance of taking other riders out, the penalties will need to get tougher. Plus he won’t win races and championships like that. In 2005 Jorge Lorenzo received a one race ban for irresponsible riding. From there he started to tidy up his race craft and won 5 world championships and 64 races. I know some people will think Lorenzo was a bit soft toward the end of his career but he wasn’t in his heyday. Zarco has won 2 world championship and 16 races. He has the talent and hardness, he just needs a bit more polish. I hope he gets strong mentoring and opportunities he needs to allow him to fight for the MotoGP championship one day. Why we think the move was never going to work. Again the line and trajectory. Data released by the team since says that Zarco actually braked later than any lap before. Yet in our article on Tuesday we suggested Zarco would need to roll off early in order to stay on the track. Let me ask a question. If Zarco braked later than any lap before, was very wide, off line and not exactly pointed the right way. How was he going to get it stopped, back to left side of the track and around turn 3? Was he braking really early with heaps in reserve for every lap of the weekend prior to that? I seriously doubt it. So was he going to get it stopped and around turn 3? I stand by what we suggested, I don’t believe he was staying on the track, he was more likely to run off at turn 3 or clean bowl others in turn 3 if Franky didn’t hit him from behind. But we will never know. Other Notes: There has been a slight modification to the track for this weekend’s BMW M GRAND PRIX OF STYRIA being held at the same track as last weekend’s Grand Prix. As suggested in our earlier article, after a near miss like that we couldn’t see them doing nothing. What they have done looks pretty good, sure not perfect but given the time frame, at least they did something. 😊 Franky’s part. Yep maybe Franky could have rolled out of it, maybe with hindsight next time he will. But he looked to be blocked for a big part of the kink and pushed wide. He would have been caught out by that. Also he was on the right line, was forced wide while he was at full throttle and doing 310km/h Franky called Zarco a part time assassin after the event. He later apologised for the choice of words. A good assassin is skilled, cunning and plans their kill. I’d say Zarco was more like a bull in a china shop than an assassin. Hopefully Zarco can learn to be a bit more cunning, planned and become a bonafide championship contender. He sure is talented and brave enough. There have been some commentators suggesting you can’t expect a rider in Zarco’s position to have rolled out of the throttle a little and not go up the inside. Again why not? Especially if the move he is attempting isn’t going to stick. He should have swung right and tried to do it like Marquez and Lorenzo in 2018. Another thing, it’s pretty hard to hit the brake hard while cranked over. You need to get it at least partially straight and upright before whacking on the anchors. Zarco and Franky were really wide, really late with a lot of lean angle. Anyway feel free to share your views, even if you disagree with us.

HEROIC – A LESSON FROM THE DOCTOR

We have been putting the heat on a few riders of late for their race craft or lack of. Well maybe they all need a lesson from the Doctor. The performance the great Valentino Rossi delivered at the Austrian GP was nothing short of heroic! On top of that, he delivered a lesson in how to race a motorcycle. The crash that has the MotoGP world talking came oh so close to tragedy for the 9 time world champion. Vale was obviously shaken and no doubt a near miss of that magnitude would have made him question if he was going to go back out and even continue racing for good. I don’t think there would be a person out there who would have blamed Rossi one little bit if he decided to sit out the restart. After what he has achieved in the sport, how long he has been going, his age and not to mention incidents he has seen. Particularly the loss of his good friend Marco Simoncelli ☹ an incident that unfolded right in front of him. Rossi has achieved it all, for him to still have the fire burning after so long and burning bright enough for him to still race at the highest level is seriously out of this world. It’s hard enough for top riders to stay motivated for 10 years, let alone 25 years after all he has seen. Incredible! Add to this Rossi has had his tough years where he struggled and things didn’t go well at all. That would have been very hard to swallow for someone that was once unbeatable. However, he has dusted himself off, worked his butt off and now the old war horse is super competitive once again. How he got back on that bike and delivered a performance like he did on Sunday is incredible. All the power to you Vale 46! The Lesson Now here is the lesson, even with every single excuse under the sun not to perform. Even though he didn’t quiet have the ultimate race pace to go with the leaders, he did something that every racer needs to aspire to. He maximised the pace he had, delivered a very strong result and never gave in. Rossi’s fastest lap in the 20 lap restart was a 1:24.601. In all but 3 laps of the entire 2nd leg Rossi lapped within 0.5secs of that time despite all that was going on around him, changing fuel loads and of course tyre wear, fatigue etc. Rossi made minimal mistakes. A hallmark of a great performance is mistakes are few and far between. When they do occur, they are very small costing hardly any lap time and almost not even noticeable on the TV. Rather than override and blow more apexes than we can even count, Rossi extracted the absolute best from himself and the bike that he had on the day. It’s not always possible to perform to this level of precision time after time. However, a top rider does it more often than not. A great rider does it when the chips are down. And a Legend does it on a day like Sunday 16/8/2020 at the Red Bull Ring. Congratulations Valentino Rossi on such and amazing performance and thank you for the master class in riding😊 Side Note: Speaking with my old mate Toastie Tony. Toastie is one of those one eyed, mad keen Rossi supporters, you know the ones 😉 Anyway Tony was saying he might not ever win another race but wow, he has been something special. Well Tony, I wouldn’t be so sure he won’t win again. And hopefully it’s not too long before Vale is on the top step of the podium again. I for one wouldn’t be surprised if we see it again sometime soon.

Too Dangerous?

Sunday 16th August 2020, our sport dodged a massive bullet. It took the loss of Ayrton Senna in 1994 for our 4 wheel cousins to learn their lesson. We almost had our Aytron Senna moment, Valentino Rossi. Just take a moment to think about how you would feel right now if Rossi and Vinales were struck and what the consequences would have been. Are we going to learn from this or do we need to wait until something worse happens? The action the Austrian GP delivered was nothing like we can remember in recent history and most of it was bloody awesome! But some of it wasn’t. We, like everyone else are just so thankful that no one was more seriously hurt. While we accept our sport is dangerous and we absolutely love bar to bar action. Just like performance and technical innovations, safety also needs constant focus and improvement. There is a concerning trend in Grand Prix racing that filters down to all levels of racing. As someone who has unfortunately seen the dark side of our sport firsthand, Sunday’s GP was a stark reminder of how ugly things can get. The incident Opinions are divided and the crash has been deemed a ‘racing incident’ by officials, for the moment anyway. That’s a very big concern right there. At the time of writing this the Race Direction have announced there will be a further hearing on Thursday which is great to hear 😊. Hopefully further action will be taken once they have time to review and think about this properly. Let's take a bit of a look at the diagram below. Sure at the time of contact Zarco was in front and Franco was off line. However you need to see how they got there. The pass, Johann ZARCO was behind Franco on the run up the hill. He went up the inside and took a line that was always going to require him to roll off the throttle much earlier than normal just to stay on the track. Furthermore he was going to need to do this while crossing the normal race line, right in front of the bike he just passed. What did he actually think was going to happen? Well he probably didn’t think. Sure Zarco had a mega run out of turn 1 and the speed to pass MORBIDELLI, but the move wasn’t on. Zarco needed to roll out of the throttle and wait for a better opportunity. Especially with his experience. Franco would have been shocked and probably didn’t even know what to do or how to react. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he froze a little bit. I can’t see how you can turn a bike doing 310km/h on the line Johann ZARCO chose. How does race direction deem this a racing incident rather than reckless riding? The Bigger Issue Very experienced, top level racers are doing some pretty dumb things on track and race direction hasn’t really been doing much about it. We watch MotoGP, idolise them and aspire to our own dreams with the example they set. See the problem? If MotoGP riders do dumb things without any consequence it spreads through the whole sport. Aleix ESPARGARO in Q1. Cruising around on a slow lap looking for a tow. Then decides to pull right on race line smack bang in-between Rossi and Danilo PETRUCCI who were both on hot laps. Ummm excuse me but WTF was that utter rubbish? And….. where was the penalty? Pol ESPARGARO, I don’t even know where to start with him. In fact he is getting his own separate article. Marc Marquez. Remember Argentina 2018? Marc did a lot of dumb stuff….. but he got penalties for it all. That was perfect! If you take away his results he’ll slowly learn because he is results driven. Do dumb stuff, cop a whack. Remember 2018 at Phillip Island. Zarco smashed into the back of Marquez into turn 1. Yep Marc swerved just before the incident. But Marc was taking the normal race line. Again how did Zarco not know this was going to happen? Penalty? What action was taken? Back last weekend. Johan ZARCO on Franco MORBIDELLI, one of the worst I have ever seen. There was no hope of that pass working. No Hope. Due to the speed of this accident and the seriousness I really think Zarco needs a ban and some time on the sidelines, especially seeing his track record. I am sure he had no intent and maybe he didn’t even think it through. But whether he thought it through or not is no excuse. The point is he should have thought it through. Unfortunately, the best way human’s learn is through consequence. Race bans are a whole lot better than what very nearly happened on Sunday. These riders need to think. If they can’t manage that they need to be penalised. If the behaviour continues with no change, tear up their license and give another rider a go. If we don't do this, we are condoning the behaviour. In my own career as a rider and a mentor at local level, I have seen my share of dumb things… and yes I have even contributed to them and done my fair share of dumb things too. I have seen some nasty stuff and people hurt for no good reason. Incidents that could have been avoided. Yes some that couldn’t but many that could. Moves that have next to no chance of working aren’t just plain dangerous, they don’t even give you a chance of a good result, they wreck your result. So why hell do we see it so often? Can we do better as a sport? There are some great programs out there like the training juniors receive and some of the awesome work our clubs have done for beginners and novices. Awesome stuff!! However Race Craft and reckless riding is something we need to work a lot more on. Both for riders and officials. Culture Penalising these crazy moves consistently, for a long period of time will change the culture of our sport. And it's the culture that needs to change. Seeing a gap and then just shoving your nose into without an understanding or thought of if it's going to work or not is just dangerous. It's reckless. Are we going to wait for our Ayrton Senna moment or is this one enough for us to encourage culture change in our sport and discourage reckless riding more actively? Passing attempts that have a low chance of success or cutting across race line that results in an incident or a rider being impeded in qualifying deserve penalties. The severity of the incident the harsher the penalty. We are not saying we don't want hard and brave racing, we do. Close, hard battles and yep they will end in tears sometimes. Let's just get rid of this reckless crap. We need a culture change and encourage better education and understanding. A quick bit on passing It is kind of pretty simple. If the pass you are attempting doesn’t have at least 60-70% chance of sticking, wait until it does. If you have no idea if it does then wait until you actually do, else it;s just hope and not skill. Sure the % changes depending on the stakes, last lap, last corner of MotoGP, yep try a 30% chance. A ride day, make it 95% or better. Horses for courses. Oh the Track itself Is the Red Bull Ring Dangerous for bikes? Well all tracks have a level of danger but yes, I’d say the Red Bull Ring is a bit dangerous for MotoGP at the moment. Turn 3 – The bikes a travelling at over 300km/h to a very slow corner that comes back on itself. Sunday showed us what can happen here TURN 1? Turn 1 also produced a monster crash in Moto2. I don’t think it’s a particularly dangerous in isolation. However the line required to take the kink up the hill properly makes this more dangerous because a late high side is likely to end with bikes on the track. As Sunday showed. What can they do? Well that’s a really hard one. Do nothing? I am not sure I’d be doing nothing if it was my head on the chopping block this weekend. As a short term measure, I’d be putting a no pass zone on that straight. Any rider that passes another rider (unless that rider is clearly going slow) has to serve a penalty. It’s really sad that we even have to consider things like this but if riders can’t work this stuff out what choice do we have. I know that might seem extreme and the purists will hate it but I’d prefer that to seeing another incident like Sunday. And I still want them to race. Sorry it was such a long read but let us know your thoughts.

Make or Break for Pol

We’ve covered of our thoughts on last weekend’s incident between Pol Espargaro and Johann ZARCO. Thanks for all the feedback by the way, was great to get your thoughts too. Now it’s time to address what we believe will probably be one of the most important race weekend’s of Pol’s entire career. Let’s start off with a few facts. · Pol is in his 15th season Grand Prix Racing, yep 15 years on the international circuit. · Pol is in his 7th year of the MotoGP class · Pol was the 2013 Moto2 World champion · Pol has competed in 229 grand prix · Pol is still just 29 years of age and still has a lot of racing ahead of him When you look at back at some of those stats you can see why we are so hard on him in our last article. He is way too experienced to be making dumb mistakes like that and throwing away a guaranteed podium. Pressure Cooker The pressure is on Pol Espargaro, whether he will admit it either publicly or even to himself, the pressure is really on and it will be sitting in his sub-conscious. He has recently signed for HRC in 2021 to partner one of the greatest in recent history, Marc Marquez. That’s going to expose any rider, boy oh boy what a challenge. He finally has a bike underneath that is capable of race wins. There can be no doubt about that now. In fact the KTM looks like it produces probably the best corner entry confidence of any bike in MotoGP, it seem to have really good acceleration and the top speed isn’t too bad either. On top of all that, this weekend’s race is at the Red Bull Ring. KTM’s home track and where they have recently completed 4 full days of testing. This is a track they should do extremely well at. Last weekend his rookie teammate Brad Binder delivered KTM’s first ever MotoGP win in only his 3rd ever MotoGP race. Wow! That must have cut deep. Pol instead spent his afternoon sunbaking in the gravel traps of the Brno circuit after being dusted up by his young teammate and making far too many mistakes. Around 70% of the MotoGP world and fans have laid the blame at Pol’s feet, that will have an affect on him. No doubt about that. Add into the mix another 2 young, hungry riders Miguel OLIVEIRA and Iker LECUONA who are on if not equal equipment, equipment that is dam close. It’s easy to see Pol will have his work cut out if he wants to be the KTM top dog this weekend. For most of Pol’s MotoGP career he has had a place to hide, he has never really been on a bike expected to challenge for podiums or wins. The closest was the Tech 3 Yamaha in his rookie season of 2014. Even then it was a lucky podium bike on a good day rather than a real bonified challenger. A Champions Test Now comes the true test, no more places to hide for Pol. He is wounded from last weekend and his back is against the wall. What he does this weekend when it really matters, as the chequered flag falls on Sunday afternoon, is going to say a lot of Pol’s potential to be a future champion. There is one very important ingredient to performances of brilliance, they are born from adversity. Adversity always presents an opportunity for brilliance. Some athletes can use it to their advantage, some will crumble under the pressure. Well here is your opportunity Pol, which one is it going to be?

FLEX’S BIRTHDAY

Our favourite primate Matthew “Flex” Gregory turned 27 this weekend just past. To celebrate Flexo has spent entire week in the dyno room punching out some great performance tunes. While some may think it’s a little harsh leaving him in there all week, we can assure you he is much happier in there away from Sauce and Daz who he ‘tolerates’ . A big happy birthday buddy!

NATHAN JONES – DNA HIGH PERFORMANCE FILTERS RIDER OF THE YEAR

Yes it’s massively late but Nathan Jones had both his worst and best year as a racer in 2019. How can the same rider have their worst and best performance in the same year? Here is how. Nath was way off his best at the beginning of the year and even through the middle. Towards the end he re-captured some of the form that saw him win 3 VRRC Superbike titles previously but he still wasn’t at his true best or fully himself. Despite being massively out of form Nathan still took out title number 4 in 2019. And here lies the tale of a true champion. Nathan had so many excuses at his disposal, so many. A young family, work and life pressure, minimal budget, and we mean minimal. Plus a new bike that wasn’t working for him at all, Nathan is a mentally fast rider and he has always done it without a budget that matches his talent. So what happened in 2019? There is no lying or denying, since Nathan upgraded to a Gen-5 ZX-10R we at Race Center have never been able to give him the well-balanced package he needed to deliver his normal level of results. Furthermore, we couldn’t even give him a package that yielded a better lap time than his previous gen-4 ZX-10R. On top of all this a conversation Nathan and I had early in the year signalled warning signs for me as a team boss and semi mentor. While I will never be as fast as Nath and it’s actually a real privilege for me to be involved with such a great rider, I still have a job to do. There were signs that Nathan’s heart wasn’t quite in it as it used to be . There were a number of reasons for the dip in form…reasons not excuses….. The 2 biggest were: · The gen-5 ZX-10R. It might have great top horsepower and Jonny Rea might win every race he enters but it has been a hard bike for us to get out head around to the point we can give Nathan what he needs. (side note, we are hopeful our gains in 3D power maps over the break will resolve this but until we race we won’t know). We could put a marketing spin on it but that’s the actual truth, the bike wasn’t good enough. · 2nd Nathan’s expanding life and family. Nathan is a loving dad with a young family. Anyone that knows him knows how much he loves his wife and family. For someone that cares so much for his family and has the pressure of keeping a roof over his families heads it can be extremely hard to push beyond what a bike is capable of. This is something that many racers face at one point or another. Questioning if the fire still burns to ride at the limit. So what did he do with the Lack of budget, life pressure and a bike that wasn’t working? Whinge, piss n’ moan, make excuses, sack his team (us)? The answer is no he did none of that. He sat down with us, talked about it all and decided to chip away, step by step. He even found the nuts to ask for less setup changes and more consistency in his bike so he could try figure out the best way to get a lap time out of what he had. Fast forward to the last round at Broadford. Nath was looking so much more like his old self, yet the bike was still hard to handle. He had reconnected with his mojo lapping in the low 57s even though he was still struggling with the bike. This is a real champion With the only motivation to help him rap up title #4 we made a big mistake when it mattered! After a small rear shock change, when re-fitting the fuel tank we accidentally kinked the fuel line, big error. This meant that Nathan was hamstrung for Race 1 of the final round. The kinked fuel line couldn’t deliver the full amount of fuel at high rpm or high throttle loads. Nathan was missing a lot of horsepower. Yet somehow he still delivered a 4th place and mega point haul. On his return did he chuck the toys out of the pram, blame people or carry on as if his ego was bigger than Mt Everest? Not a chance, absolutely none, he just said something is wrong, I don’t have full power? Did he hit social media, bag the team? Again none of that. Instead his focus was simply on the job at hand, can we find the problem? can we fix it? How can he test it is fixed before race 2? Is there anything he can do to help with the work? We apologised and he didn’t even bat an eyelid. We hated making that mistake and he knew that, he didn’t make us feel worse to make himself look better. 100% kept the emotion out of it. Why??? Sure he is a ripper bloke but also how would any of that rubbish help win him a 4th championship? It wouldn’t And there is the true difference. A champion rider is more interested in performing better when the chips are down rather than finding excuses. A champion looks for ways to improve, not a way to find the excuse. Riding talent is one thing. When you combine it with determination, work ethic, focus and a team attitude you have a champion. Nobody wins 4 VRRC Superbike championships by accident. Congratulations on an amazing year Nathan. We’d like to thank DNA High Performance Filters and Kenma Australia for their assistance with this award. All the 3J Racing fans and of course Nathan’s family. It’s been absolutely amazing to share so many years of racing with them all.

wE ARE OPEN DURING STAGE 4

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