2019 Motegi MotoGP with Boris
The Carnival Isn’t Over
Did Motegi surprise anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Yes, another simply dominant display by the re-crowned world champion, Marc Marquez.
He’s just ticking boxes at the moment.
“I’ve never had a pole position here. Sorted. Then, best I win this in case anyone thought I was fluking this stuff.”
And so he did. From start to finish again. Sure, he let Fabulous have a sniff now and again, but each time the Rookie of the Year (and rightly so) came within half-a-second, Marc would just go faster.
He won by eight-tenths of a second, and single-handedly secured the Manufacturer’s Championship for HRC. Thanks for playing, Jorge, Cal and Taka. It’s like you weren’t even there.
It’s a good thing Honda’s market capitalisation is valued at US$50.4 billion. It will probably be able to afford to pay Marquez what he is going to ask for next year.
What happened behind Marc was vaguely interesting – if only in terms of mathematics for the championship, and tyre choice and management.
Marc went out on Mediums. Fabulous chose Softs – obviously reasoning it was the only chance he had. And it was. The kid did great keeping up, and at the end, keeping Dovizioso at bay.
One more lap and Dovi looked certain to claim second place. To his credit, Andrea worked like a plough horse to ease his Ducati from seventh on the grid to third place.
Jack Miller once again proved strong in Qualifying, and fired himself from sixth into third for the first few laps. And then he went backwards, clearly betrayed by his choice of tyres or a poor breakfast.
Cal Crutchlow, inspired by having all of Honda’s upper management at the track looking at the Honda riders who have not helped win HRC the manufacturer’s trophy, made a fist of it to land in fifth, which is where he started. For Crutchlow, this is like winning a race. He did not eat gravel, and he did not go backwards.
The same can be said of Lorenzo, who started in 19th, but fought heroically against Guintoli, Syahrin and Abraham to come 17th, only 40 seconds behind the winner – an improvement of 16 seconds from last race.
Of course, the paddock is still rife with rumours of Lorenzo’s alleged departure from Honda, and replacement by Zarco, who will be filling in for Nakagami for the last three races. Takaaki is off to get his shoulder rebuilt for next year.
Zarco, who did get an offer from Yamaha to be a test-rider, held off on accepting the offer, and then all of a sudden he’s riding an HRC bike for the last three races. The rumour mill is squealing.
Lorenzo is insistent he will remain for the duration of his contract, and Honda is also saying all the right things in that regard. This means nothing. Unless Lorenzo suddenly starts making massive advances in the last three races, and comes out blazing in 2020, there is no way Honda will keep him.
Of course, it’s not like Lorenzo is needed to win a championship. Marquez seems to have that sorted. But a company does not accumulate US$50 billion by paying big money for non-performers. It’s entirely possible Lorenzo’s off-season will be interesting for his lawyers.
Both Suzukis ran well. If only they could qualify better with more regularity, both Rins and Mir could well be fighting for podiums. Suzuki is aware of this issue, and is taking steps to enhance the ability of its bikes to produce a blistering one-lap marvel to give their riders a better chance in the race.
Franco Morbidelli would be the rookie everyone would be talking about if it wasn’t for his team-mate, Quartararo. Once again, Frankie produced a good result, but his team-mate is on another level.
Maverick Vinales is also not blind to the fact Yamaha is looking at Quartaroro with a gleam in its eye. I’m thinking Maverick’s improvement in the latter half of this season has a lot to do with Fabulous being so fabulous.
Petrucci is still lost in the wilderness. He started in eighth, and finished ninth. I’m thinking him and Jack won’t be mates next year.
As this season winds down, a little bit of friendly cheating has emerged. Guintoli had his Practice times scrubbed for running a 2020 engine, and Rabat used one too many engines, was penalised by a five-second delay on the grid, and chose not to race instead. No-one even noticed.
Rossi’s weekend was an unmitigated disaster. He started in tenth and crashed out near the end of the race. No-one understands why. Not even The Doctor. Rossi complains about lack of grip, but he’s being flogged by satellite Yamahas – the same bikes he was riding last year, which also had no grip according to him. I predict some major tantrums in the Great One’s garage next year if things don’t get better.
And so we come to Phillip Island. Fast and furious, and the weather is anyone’s guess. Vinales won last year. Marc ate dirt. But Marc won in 2017 with Rossi close behind. This also means nothing. He’ll probably win. I’d put a fifty on it if you can get decent odds.
|DNF||Valentino ROSSI||Yamaha||4 Laps|
|DNF||Andrea IANNONE||Aprilia||17 Laps|