What to make of that then? Well, like I wrote the other day there was no surprise that two Spaniards made it to the rostrum and even less surprise that, broken leg or no, Marc Marquez came out on top. The surprise was that he had to fight tooth and nail with none other than Valentino Rossi to take that win.
Did the technical rules have an effect? Difficult to say, but there were three factory bikes, fuel allowance 20 litres, on the rostrum despite Losail being a thirsty track. Rossi ran out of gas on the slow-down lap twelve months ago, this year he fought all the way to the flag. Aleix Espargaro's Open Class Yam took fourth with 24 litres despite wrecking two bikes in qualifying. As the team managed to build one bike overnight from salvage and spares, he may well have been using a 2013 tankso could only have been on 22 litres. The Ducatis were a lot nearer than last year but still over ten seconds off the winner. In other words, not that much changed compared to last season.
The question is, what are we to make of Rossi's performance? There were three major changes in his approach; the new crew chief obviously didn't do anything wrong in his first race, the riding style has evolved even further towards Lorenzo-like lean angles, and most shockingly the girlfriend was around for the whole weekend and not hiding from the cameras.
|The trouble is that Qatar isn't usually a good predictor for the rest of the year. |
The trouble is that Qatar isn't usually a good predictor for the rest of the year. In 2013, Assen notwithstanding, Rossi had his best ride of the year and things promptly went down the pan. If he can be that competitive in Texas, where he had a nightmare last year, we will know more than three things have changed.