A photo has floated around the Internet this week showing continent-sized chunks of rubber missing from the right side of Valentino Rossi's rear tire during the MotoGP race last Saturday at TT Assen. The disintegrating tire forced Rossi to make a very rare mid-race pit stop in dry conditions for replacement rubber on his Ducati GP12.
There are no images flowing through the series of tubes known as the Interwebs as visual proof, but it is known that the rear Bridgestone on Ben Spies' Yamaha M1 also was stripped to the carcass in very large sections during the race.
But unlike Rossi, Elbowz never made a pit stop despite losing chunks of time and rubber over the closing laps. He managed to finish fourth on a bike that could be politely described as an industrial-strength vibrator - especially on high-speed right turns. And certainly contemplating the worst.
Does anyone remember that Ben Spies could have been killed in a horrific 190 mph tire failure crash at Daytona in 2003? He wears several scars from that crash (including probably the biggest scar of any racer today). The psychological haunting of knowing what happens when a tire truly fails could not have made it easy for Spies to soldier on for his fourth place finish.
Something to consider for those who insist Spies failed last Saturday at "The Cathedral" because he was passed on the last lap by Tech 3 Yamaha rider Andrea Dovizioso, who leads Spies in the World Championship and has painted a bull's eye on Spies' factory ride next season.