Friday, May 19, 2006
Camel Yamaha bought one new chassis to Le Mans, and it went to Valentino Rossi’s side of the garage. That didn’t stop Colin Edwards being the fastest man out there today, he outdid Vale by a tenth of a second.
Even with its remodeled first corner, Le Mans is not the sort of track that is likely to promote the chatter that has afflicted the Yams at Jerez and Shanghai. The corners are very stop/go, there are no fast corners where the bikes spend very little time on their side. Jerry Burgess says that this place gives teams fewer set-up problems than anywhere else. Historically, Yamaha has always done well here as the two chicanes and the tight left/double-apex-right that ends the lap have favored their agility.
Rossi has reacted to the Italian’s media’s wonderful overreaction to the events of Shanghai with typical humor. One newspaper declared that Italian motorcycling was dead, a considered response, you might think, to the fact that Italy failed to win a MotoGP race for the first time since Laguna last year. Vale altered the decal of his pet bulldog Guido which adorns the seat hump of his Yam to show the hound in an icy scene wearing arctic survival gear with the caption ‘-32’, a reference to the number of points by which he trails championship leader Nicky Hayden. Some art critics have also detected a ‘frozen out’ theme that may be a reference to the Italian press in the same way as Vale’s acclaimed ‘chain gang’ celebration at Brno after the Italian press declared him finished because he hadn’t won for four races.
If anyone’s worrying, it’s Honda. They appear to be packing midfield behind the Yamahas, a Kawasaki and the very rapid – again – John Hopkins. The forecast for Saturday is terrible and mixed at best for Sunday. That may suit Rossi quite nicely.