RideFast October 2019

RobRidefast

SA's best motorcycle magazine

ED’S NOTES: TALKING MOTOGP

The Monster Rossi created

At the point of typing this column out I’ve just

finished watching FP2 from the Aragon MotoGP

round and it really got my mind going. Listening

to a lot of the comments made by the two

commentators and Simon Crafar down in pit lane

it just seems like its doom-and-gloom for the rest

of the field as far as trying to beat Marquez goes.

The man is just a machine, there is no other way

of describing him. I said it a couple of months

ago on a Talking MotoGP podcast that I can’t

see anyone seriously challenging him for the

MotoGP title in the next 5 years at least. Mental,

physically and skilfully no one seems to be close

to him, or close enough to challenge over a

season. The bad news for the rest of the field is

that the Honda is getting better and even more

suited to Marquez and his all-out style with every

passing race meeting.

Marquez’ domination is not only on track, but

also off it. We all know about the Rossi Marquez

bad blood but if you really think about it Rossi

only has himself to blame, as he helped create

the monster that is Marquez.

Growing up, it’s no secret that Marquez idolized

Rossi and watched his every move. Back in those

days, Rossi was unstoppable, pretty much like

Marquez is now and not only on track but off it as

well. I hear people say Marquez is too aggressive

and how can he do what he is doing to Rossi and

the others, but what they forget it when Rossi

was bashing bars and pulling zap signs at Biaggi,

shunting Gibernau and Lorenzo off at Jerez and

Stoner at Laguna Seca, a young up and coming

Mr Marc Marquez was sitting taking notes of all

of that. And all the off-track mind games Rossi

played with them, Marquez was taking it all in.

Since then MM has put all that he learnt from

Rossi over the years and put it into practice, and

in my mind, has taken it a step further. I watch

all the practice and qualifying sessions now and

Marquez goes out not only to set fast times and

get bike setup, but also to play games with all the

riders. You will often see him waiting for the likes

of Vinales and Dovi, then tagging onto them. They

soon realize he is there and abandon their laps,

but what that does is just upset their rhythm a

bit, because for the rest of that session or day

all they can talk/complain about is Marquez

following them and disrupting them. Job done

from Marquez, who then lands up getting the job

done on race day more often than not.

Take the recent incident with Rossi at Misano,

Rossi home race where he is literally a GOD.

Marquez knows this and again, as he has done

a few times now this year, waited for the dying

seconds of qualifying to tag in behind Rossi

who could not afford to back off as he needs

to set a fast time. This plays on Rossi’s mind

no doubt, and at Misano I could see that Rossi,

this time around, was having none of it and

almost looked like he sacrificed his qualifying to

disrupt Marquez. The scuffle that went viral then

ensued and I could see by the reaction of both

afterwards that they both knew exactly what

they were doing.

Both riders naturally went on to kind of blame

each other, but reality is that they both knew the

game they were playing. Very much a case of

Marquez pulling an old school Rossi on current

Rossi, and new school Rossi playing modern day

Marquez’ games.

At the end of the day Marquez is doing what he

needs to do to win World Championships, and

there is no doubt he is on track for title number

8 this year, creeping ever closer to Rossi’s 9 and

even one better, 10, which Rossi just never looks

like getting.

So, who can challenge Marquez, not only on track

but off as well? Dovi has proven he can’t, Vinales

the same, so could the new French sensation,

Fabio Quartararo, who was labelled as a young

Marquez when first coming into the paddock

and idolized Marquez growing up. Could Fabio

do a Marquez on Marquez, and take everything

he has learnt from his idol and put it against

that very same idol? Only time will tell, but as far

as MotoGP goes let’s hope that it does happen

because as of now there is no one even close to

taking the crown away from Marquez.

Stale Ducati?

Watching the past couple of races and to me

it looks just like that – Ducati going stale. Have

Ducati now tried everything they possibly can

with the likes of Dovi and Petrucci. Both riders

have been on Ducati for a very longtime and,

yes, Dovi has come close and Petrucci has won

a race and got podiums but to me it’s time for

fresh blood and a fresh approach if they are to

challenge Marquez and Honda.

No doubt the Ducati package is a really good one,

but a brick wall seems to have been hit and I can’t

see Dovi or Petrucci lifting any titles for them.

I mention this because rumours are ripe that

Ducati are preparing to break the bank, as they

did with Lorenzo, to sign Fabio Quatararo and

Alex Rins to headline their assault on the 2021

championship.

Even though Jack Miller is doing well, there

rumour that Lorenzo was going to replace him

at Pramac Ducati and the fact Ducati never

really fought back at those rumours suggests

to me that they don’t see Miller as a serious

Factory seat filler. There is no doubt that Rins and

especially Quartararo are the hottest property

in MotoGP right now and teams will be doing

everything they can to get those signatures. To

me, Ducati have the biggest carrot to dangle.

Both riders would not want to go to Repsol

Honda and play second fiddle to Marquez – it has

been proven, no one can compete with Marquez

in a Marquez team on a Marquez bike.

Yamaha would have to improve their bike

dramatically to try and hold onto both Quartararo

and Vinales, who is another rider being tipped to

be on Ducati’s books.

Suzuki is a great package, but over a full season is

not ready to fight for the number one plate, and a

rider like Rins is finding that out once again so the

fast Ducati could be his best option. Once again

time will tell but one thing is for sure silly season

next year is going to be very silly, and very exciting.

KTM woes

The times they are good and bad for KTM at the

moment. On the one hand, they have recorded

their best finishes and qualifying times ever and

are closing the gap by a couple of seconds every

race meeting over their rivals. But on the other

side they have the Zarco drama – a top rider

coming into the team, set to change the team’s

fortunes and take them forward but instead

doing more harm than good. The Zarco debacle

shows that the KTM bike is still way behind and

for a top rider to Zarco to struggle so much just

highlighted that.

Last month Zarco announced that he would

be ending his deal with KTM a year earlier than

planned, and just a few weeks later, literally

after the Misano race, KTM announced they had

sacked Zarco and would be using Mika Kallio for

the remainder of the 2019 season.

Bad move? Yes, maybe not all professionally

done but there are two sides to every story. It’s

no secret Zarco had been hating life with KTM

and apparently it all boiled over in Misano with a

huge break down between team and rider. This

looks bad for both sides for sure, but I look at it

as a positive move for KTM, who need to start

improving their bike a bit more rapidly.

The appointment of Kallio, a long-time test rider

for them, is a good one. The team can now use

him to test new parts in racing conditions – the

best and only time to test in my view. This will help

them develop a better all-round package. As far

as I see it, Pol Espargaró is not who is improving

the bike, but rather riding around the problems,

changing his riding style to adapt to the bike. Yes,

he has got better and yes KTM’s results and times

are improving, but that doesn’t mean the bike is.

Riding around the problems is not going to solve

them and a rider like Kallio, in racing conditions,

will no doubt help improve the bike.

This brings me to my next point. KTM’s ultimate

goal for the 2021 season, in my view, is to have

both Miguel Oliviera and Brad Binder on their

factory bikes. They have a great relationship with

both riders and both men have proven over the

years they are capable of improving the orange

machines. Brad and Miguel know KTM inside-out

by now, and have come from struggle and know

no different so won’t be asking for a silky-smooth

Yamaha chassis, as Zarco would have been doing.

They need riders to come in and improve their

bike as it is, not comparing to bikes they

have ridden before. Both Zarco and

Espargaró have come from Yamaha

M1 machines, so I can almost hear

them saying to the KTM technicians

“make it like the Yamaha”. This will

never happen and there are no two

men with more experience on

WP suspension and the KTM

trellis frame than Oliviera

and Brad Binder.

So that’s my thoughts

for this month. For

me MotoGP talk

from myself and Mr

Donovan Fourie be

sure to check out

the RideFast YouTube

channel.

Until next month, enjoy

this action packed issue of SA’s

best motorcycle magazine!

EDITOR & DESIGNER:

Rob Portman

rob@ridefast.co.za

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CONTRIBUTORS:

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RIDEFAST MAGAZINE OCTOBER 2019 1

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