To use an old football reporter's cliche, 2012 was a game of two halves. Yamaha started the 1000cc era with a
motorbike closely and cleverly derived from their 800. It worked and Jorge Lorenzo took advantage. From Laguna on,
Pedrosa had a new motorcycle and charged. Uninjured for the whole season, Dani's late-season form was awesome but it
came too late to overcome Lorenzo's astonishing consistency. When he finished, which he did in all but two races, it
was never lower than second. If you want to see an illustration of perfection, go and have a look at his lap times
in practice and qualifying from any GP.
The only other winner all year was Casey Stoner in his last year of two-wheeled competition. The final score was
seven to Dani, six to Jorge and five to Casey. No scores, including missed races, were four to Casey, and two each
for Dani and Jorge. The rest of the field could only manage a dozen rostrum finishes between them.
Did the advent of the 1000s make for better racing?
Difficult to say when you have three aliens still far and away
faster than the rest of the field. However, the competitiveness of Cal Crutchlow and rookie Stefan Bradls progress
give hope for the future. Lap times certainly did not drop as expected. Yamaha say top speeds went up on average by
about seven mph but braking distances from those speeds went up by eighteen yards or more, which was the limiting factor.
Did the CRTs do anything to help the show? Well, the two Aspar bikes' internecine struggle for top dog was certainly
entertaining. Was Superbike faster than CRT? Comparing the SBK lap record with the best lap by a CRT bike and
totally ignoring any factors such as weather or track temperature, the CRTs were about half a second quicker at
Assen, Misano and Phillip Island, the CRTs were quicker by a similar amount at Brno, and they were level to within a
thousandth at Silverstone. Give Aprilia's chassis gurus winter to dial their kit into the Bridgestones and it'll be
closer. It only took Moto2 a couple of years to go past Supersport times, and CRT will do the same to Superbike; if
the sub-class survives that long.
The 2014 regs have been published, but as the small print clearly shows there is still a good deal of negotiation to
be done before everyone is happy with the common ECU. If Yamaha lease engines and Honda make a customer V4 then CRTs
will have been a two-year phenomenon.
So next year it'll still be de Puniet and Espargaro harassing the satellite Ducatis, and Jorge and Dani at the
front. There will, however, be one big change: no Casey.
But fear not: there will be Marc Marquez.