Welcome back to MotoGP; It’s only been four weeks but it seems like forever. When we left, Marquez was back on the pace but surely too far from the Yamahas to retain his title. The Ducatis’ early promise seemed to have faded and it looked like Jorge and Valentino would fight out the second half of the season between themselves.
After one day at the Brickyard things look something like that but with a few possibly significant wrinkles starting to show. This morning’s first free practice was more like a track-sweeping session, Rossi didn’t even bother changing his rear tyre. He was a lot more bothered this afternoon when he was over half a second slower than Lorenzo, they were tenth and first overall. Times were close so the sight of Marquez in second was no surprise but that of the works Ducatis in third and fourth was. The bikes from Bologna are back to tracks that they cope with better than the last two and hopefully have got over the rash of silly problems that has afflicted Dovizioso.
Hopefully we’ll be back to the plot of the start of the season when the Ducatis had a say in who’d be on the rostrum. Sure the championship will be fought out by the Yamahas (barring acts of God) but both the Hondas and Ducatis will have a big say in the points differential between the team mates. That gap is currently 13 but was down to one single, solitary point after Catalunya. Every point, and that means every position on track, will be vital.
But first, we have to find out who can be kindest to their tyres on a very hot track that’s tough on rubber at the best of times. For once FP4 will repay close attention; expect some long runs and have a good look at who’s putting in consistent times over more than a handful laps. It’s probably the first time we’ll have an idea of what’s going to happen on Sunday.