You have to see this one. No, really, you have to. There is something life-affirming about a great champion rediscovering his will to win and taking the fight to the young gun. Today that man was Jorge Lorenzo who fought tooth and nail to extend his winning run at Mugello from three to four. He came up short, just, after an epic battle over the final laps that took in repeated slipstreaming battles on and out-braking at the end of the fastest straight in the calendar, pass and re-pass in all of the Tuscan circuit's high-speed s-bends (I refuse to call them chicanes) and the very real prospect that Marc Marquez's perfect run might come to an end. It was so gripping, so close to the edge, that Valentino Rossi's ride from tenth on the grid to third place hardly registered.
Marquez had looked a little less carefree than is usual, he later said he had this race marked on the calendar as one where he'd be going for points not the win. But when victory presented itself, he couldn't resist risking everything to obtain it. It was racing at its very best, it was sport at its very best.
What happened to make Lorenzo competitive again? As usual, the answer is aggregation of small gains: less spinning, a little more wheelie control, a track he and the bike like, better physical condition. Marquez's worried look before the start was genuine, he knew he had a front tyre problem. A change to top gear after warm up also proved crucial. The Repsol Honda team changed the ratio to gear for a slip-streaming pass. That implies the Honda no longer has the ability to motor past the Yamaha on the straight and ties in with what we saw in Qatar on the long straight. Pedrosa told me in Argentina that his bike finished several races last season with a tiny amount of fuel left. With a liter less in the tank it would appear the Honda has lost the ability just to motor past the Yamaha. What it still does have, judging by where Marquez got on the throttle in the final corner, is amazing amounts of edge grip. Watch the very last corner of the race and marvel at how early Marc is on the gas.
|You have to see this one. No, really, you have to.|
Other things to watch and marvel at:
Bradl's crashes - the one in warm-up is the most violent thing I've seen in a very long time. Then ,a few hours later he is wiped out by Crutchlow's sliding Ducati.
Lorenzo's pass down casanova Savelli.
Lorenzo's pass at Correntaio.
Any of Lorenzo's passes.
Any of Marquez's re-passes.
Look, do yourself a favor and watch it all. Then watch it again.