Ryder Notes 2006: Crazy Days


Originally published by Julian Ryder on Saturday, September 16, 2006

Shinya Nakano used his brain, realized where using the extra grip of his Q-tyres would actually benefit his lap time. He kept it as smooth as possible in the first sector then pushed hard, especially in the giant lefthander onto the front straight. His reward was a second place on the grid, his fourth front-row start of the year, just in front of Valentino.

It’s a bit difficult to make sense of what’s happened today.

Nicky Hayden fans shouldn’t get too excited by his pole position; sure it was an epic lap followed by some of the best wheelies you’ve ever seen but he is still struggling for any semblance of grip on race tyres. It was a bit hotter today than Friday so the Michelin runners had a better day, the Bridgestone runners had to be clever to get the best out of their qualifying tyres and Dunlop had their best result of the season with Checa qualifying sixth after being fastest in morning practice!

Yesterday, De Puniet was quickest but today Bridgestone’s qualifiers wouldn’t last a whole lap—which helps to explain why the Ducatis are 12th and 13th (although Loris had problems with his number-one bike) and the Suzukis are 15th and 16th. Shinya Nakano used his brain, realized where using the extra grip of his Q-tyres would actually benefit his lap time. He kept it as smooth as possible in the first sector then pushed hard, especially in the giant lefthander onto the front straight. His reward was a second place on the grid, his fourth front-row start of the year, just in front of Valentino. Dani Pedrosa hauled himself up to tenth but is going to have to fight his way past a lot more people than he did in Malaysia last week.

As is inevitable at this time of the season, the rumour mill is churning at full speed. It looks like two Hondas will have vacant seats as Elias and Tamada head for the exit but until Nicky Hayden re-signs with HRC (as he is rumoured to be very close to doing) none of the other big players will sign. One rumour is firming up into fact: the Ilmor X3 will have a wild card entry at both Portugal and Valencia once they’ve got a tyre deal sorted out. Last year’s race was a brilliant fight between Hayden and Rossi, tomorrow looks like the same again but a as eighth-place Casey Stoner (0.95sec back of pole) pointed out, “I think it’s going to be a bloody close race up front.”

He could be right.


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