Ryder Notes 2006: The Honda Are Coming!


Originally published by Julian Ryder on Saturday, July 15, 2006

Valentino Rossi is not having a nice time in Germany, and he doesn’t expect to have one next week in the USA either.

Once again his, and all the other, Yamahas couldn’t use their qualifying tires and so Vale finds himself back on the fourth row of the grid. That’s exactly where you don’t want to be on this track, where apart from the downhill right-angle right that is turn one you can’t overtake for over half a lap.

Dani backed up his first pole with the same again in rounds five, nine and now ten.  If he wins tomorrow he will take away Fast Freddie’s distinction of being the youngest rider ever to take back-to-back victories in the top class of GP racing.

The fear for Rossi is that by the time he works his way towards the front of the race, pole sitter Dani Pedrosa will have cleared off. Pedrosa equaled Freddie Spencer’s record of four pole positions in his debut season in the top class. Both men took their first pole at round four of the championship, Freddie then got pole in the last three rounds of a 12-round championship. Dani backed up his first pole with the same again in rounds five, nine and now ten. If he wins tomorrow he will take away Fast Freddie’s distinction of being the youngest rider ever to take back-to-back victories in the top class of GP racing.

At the moment, the man most likely to prevent that is Nicky Hayden. He had a new chassis available but after the disaster of Donington decided not to try and test it at the races. Nicky is just happy to be on the front row for the first time since the third race of the year in Turkey, and has looked very relaxed. On Friday he even turned up to BMW’s barbeque, not somewhere you’d normally expect to see him during race weekend. Maybe he’s looking forward to Laguna more than most.

The two Repsol riders are split on the grid by Kenny Roberts, who professed mild surprise that his lap was so fast. He is still marveling at the usability of his Honda motor, and raised a laugh at the front row press conference by saying even riding it through the track invasion at Donington it behaved like a street bike. All the front row men seemed certain that Valentino would come through the field to race them tomorrow, but Rossi himself is not so certain. He is even starting to think about his title: “I am starting to worry for the championship.” That’s the first time we’ve heard him express such doubts, and he fully expects his troubles to follow him to California next weekend. Whatever happens, Nicky Hayden will arrive at his home race leading the world championship.


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