Ryder Notes: Four Play
by julian ryder
Sunday, October 17, 2010

On the grid, Jorge Lorenzo looked to his left at Casey and saw he was on a brand new tire. Right, thought Jorge, I have a couple of laps to get an advantage. He was wrong. Over the last four Australian GPs at Phillip Island Casey Stoner has been headed for precisely one lap. And that wasn't this year.

Frankly, no-one saw which way he went. The bike looked good from the first moments of free practice, Casey was able to follow his usual pattern of very short runs in practice and qualifying, and there was not even a hint of a problem with the front end. Nicky Hayden, still the lap-record holder, also looked good despite a couple of small crashes, one in qualifying, one in warm up.

Once Casey had bolted with Jorge following him at a respectable distance, the race resolved itself into a showdown between Rossi and Nicky for third place and another between Ben Spies and Marco Simoncelli for fifth—and to settle Rookie of the Year. No Repsol Hondas were involved; Pedrosa was already on his way home and Andrea Dovizioso had to retire with steering-damper problems. Spies got the better of Simoncelli, who had a great race and ran in third early on. Spies got past him coming out of the final corner—"The first time I passed anyone in a straight line this year." Super Sic's style is very hard on his rear tyre... Ben might have been in that fight for third but for getting pushed out at the first corner and then making a mistake all of his own at the same corner. He has the consolation of being confirmed as Rookie of the Year and also top satellite rider.

The Rossi-Hayden dice was won by Valentino on the last lap with a typically tough pass at Honda.

He'd earlier passed Nicky with a shoulder charge at MG. No complaints from anyone by the way, it was just good hard racing. Another fourth place is not what Nicky needed or wanted, and as usual he blamed himself and apologized to the team.

Today was a reminder just how jaw-droppingly brilliant Stoner is when the team can get the bike somewhere near right for him. Even Lorenzo had to give up any idea of catching him before half distance. In two weeks time it is Estoril—a track where Lorenzo has obliterated the opposition in previous years. Should be interesting.


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