Ryder Notes: All To Play For

Suggested Mapping 8

Best detail? The bottle of champagne next to the computer. 'One more swig while I send this email ...'.
Best detail? The bottle of champagne next to the computer. ‘One more swig while I send this email …’. Ducati

Just when you thought this season couldn’t deliver any. More twists to its plot: Ducati make it a one/two at a soaking Sepang as Marquez struggled to fourth place. That means the title goes down to the wire in Valencia in two week. Okay, Marc has a lead of 21 points but Valencia is a place where anything can happen. Ask Vale about 2006, or the year most of the field started from pit lane. There have been so few passes for leading positions there over the years that qualifying becomes even more vital than usual.

The real drama today concerned the Ducati riders. Jorge Lorenzo led most of the race after hot shot Zarco had been overhauled with Andrea Dovizioso in close attendance. The pair exchanged fastest laps as they pulled away. But Marquez’s safe fourth place meant Dovi had to win, which meant he had to get past or be let past Lorenzo. And Jorge was on for his first Ducati win. Jorge was making Andrea go faster than he wanted, take more risks than he wanted. Ducati flashed a message up on Jorge’s dash: “Suggested Mapping 8.” Was that a reminder of a conversation earlier in the weekend, or a genuine suggestion? No-one is saying but it was probably the former.

In the end it didn’t matter. Jorge had a massive moment at the final corner that he saved but left a long red mark with his knee slider. That warning from his front tyre meant he couldn’t stay with Dovizioso and while Jorge said he didn’t see the message he knew that taking any sort of risk to make a pass was not a good idea. Dovi said he had something in hand but didn’t want to go that far into the danger zone. Frankly, it looked like a fair race. Jorge said he wanted to win but I have a suspicion there would have been a theatrical gesture, sitting up with hand on hip just to make sure everyone understood what was going on would be my bet.

The second half of this year has been about Dovi and Marc. The rest have been bit players. It is only right that those two protagonists should take the fight down to the wire.

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