When the dust settles on a Grand Prix weekend, the heart rate has returned to normal and the chaotic busyness is over, it's time to take a deep breath and get some perspective on what has just happened. This normally happens on a plane home, in a hotel or just sitting inside in front of the computer -before bringing up the lap charts, rider quotes and standings.
After Misano, it's going to take a little longer than normal for everything to settle. In short: Bloody hell!
If there has been a more entertainingly bizarre Grand Prix weekend in recent years, then I can't remember it. Misano has previous, of course: The first visit back to the track in 2007 featured MotoGP's most severe washout of the modern era, with track inspectors up to their waists at some areas of the circuit and buckets being used to bail out the boxes in a manner prefiguring the Italian economy.
This year, the rain returned in force. However, the only water vessels needed in the garages were those similar to Cal Crutchlow's 'emergency toilet' —as exhibited by his mechanic Steve Blackburn in a Sunday exposé of which the tabloid press would have been proud.
Joking aside, mixed conditions always make things more interesting for the spectator. The riders hate wasting a practice session in the pits —Yamaha Factory Team Director, Massimo Meregalli, said on Friday that "If I have to find something positive to say it's that we didn't make any mileage on Jorge's engine"- and those who shelled out a steep 90 euros for a weekend pass at Misano were undoubtedly unimpressed with the lack of action, but it's good to have at least some semblance of uncertainty heading into race day as a spectator on TV.
Bridgestone's boast of a 100th GP win —most of those in the single supplier era, a first race of the season for Ben Spies without a Twilight Zone-explained slice of bad luck, and the horrendous livery designs for Andrea Iannone (with a paint scheme seemingly based on a Fuse chocolate bar) and Jorge Lorenzo all raised some eyebrows, but there was more besides…
If you wanted a weird start to Sunday, then the likelihood was that it was going to come from Maverick Viñales making a comeback through the field from ninth in Moto3. The twist really came when, having done so, he got caught up in a racing incident with Álex Rins and ended the race crying in his pit box and slamming his fellow Spaniard's move. Meanwhile Mr. Consistent , Sandro Cortese, goes further ahead in the standings and is almost a shoe-in for the title for which Viñales was such a heavy favourite at the start of the year.
If Viñales thinks Rins rode too hard, then he's lucky that he and Marc Márquez won't be sharing a class next year. Pol Espargaró wasn't happy with the World Championship leader's persistent passes without leaving any space —nor can he have been too chuffed with Márquez sticking his leg out to block overtaking attempts. Former Race Director, Paul Butler, once said that the rules were relaxed slightly on the last lap, but you have to wonder what the fallout will be when he tries the same kind of moves on Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Rossi et al in 2013.
Onto the big show, and Pedrosa's misfortunes. Spanish TV might not have liked it, but Race Direction got almost everything right —just like they did with the red flag in Moto2. Riders want consistency and safety, however much applying the letter of the law prevented a fight at the front. If you can't beat the safety car because of an accidental pit lane speed limiter application, and you have to start your bike from off the track, then them's the rules. Whilst everyone watching elicited a groan when Karel Abraham put his hand up once again, you should hate the regulations which entitled him to do so, rather than him.
It's hard to say that the 2012 leaders across all three classes haven't already got one hand on the trophies. Pedrosa still believes he could do it, but after Misano he has more of a long shot than a French paparazzo covering a royal holiday. A bookie with the slightest knowledge of MotoGP wouldn't have offered odds on a Lorenzo win this Sunday once Pedrosa was out of the running.
With all that said, the San Marino GP was still enormously captivating. Rossi on the podium in the dry for the first time this year on the Ducati (now THAT's a strange one, so late in the season), Álvaro Bautista also on the rostrum with a Gresini Honda. The title race looks to be over, but this one was for SIC.
And there was no rider more excitingly unpredictable than him.
- Sports & Recreation
- Motor Racing