RIDEFAST SEPTEMBER

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Conversely, we have KTMs where 2020

Hondas were.

A complete overall of their Moto GP

machine, with a new type of frame, has

seen Team Austria become the darling

of the paddock – two wins so far from

a manufacturer that, in four years, had

seen just one podium in the wet after

everyone else crashed.

It’s amazing what a slight dose of The

Plague can do.

With the season starting in July and being

compacted into a few months, it was

imperative that riders stay afloat without

injury because there would be no time

off. Every rider said precisely that, urging

caution as part of their season strategy.

And by caution, they seemingly meant

crashing constantly.

By Round Five at the second Red Bull

outing, we’ve seen Dovizioso break

a collarbone on an MX bike, Alex

Rins completely ruin his shoulder, Cal

Crutchlow snap his hand, Johann Zarco

snap his hand at a faster speed and

Pecco Bagnaia snap a leg off.

Then there’s the curious case of Marquez.

The humerus crash (please read that

correctly) at the beginning of the season

was damn silly. We realise people say

things like ''He rides hard no matter what''

and ''He's either full taps or nothing'', but

this is a load of bollocks, especially when

he was one of the riders that subscribed to

the Caution Strategy.

Also, at Jerez One, he was more than

half a second a lap faster than anyone on

track.

Why the hell did he push so hard?

And now, because of The Plague, he

could be out for the rest of the year.

Maybe more.

If it weren't for The Plague, there would

have been a three-week gap between

the opening round and the next, with

bigger gaps between the rest. With such

pressure, Marquez took a gamble and

attempted to ride just four days after

major surgery on the second-largest bone

on his body, one that has a six-month

recovery.

Naturally, it all went somewhat wrong,

and he was back under the knife for a

second round of titanium instalments.

And so, he is out for the rest of the

season—what a bummer!

Well, not such a bummer when we look

at how the season has turned out. By

round five, we have four different winners

including two first-timers, namely Miguel

Oliviera and of course the sensational Mr

Brad Binder.

And who is going to win the next round?

No one knows. Six weeks ago, we would

have said Marquez. It's sad that we don't

have his speed in the paddock but also

not that sad.

What has also created a new spectacle

is the double round system introduced to

help the paddock cater for The Plague.

At the time of print, we have had back-toback

races at Jerez and Red Bull Ring,

and both have presented interesting new

developments.

Every time a team goes to a different

circuit, they sort of start with a fresh

piece of paper. The bikes will have base

settings, but each track has a different set

of challenges with a different approach

to each. Often, they get it wrong, and

riders that were previously challenging

for podiums are suddenly struggling for a

top ten.

Where having a round at the same track

a week later helps, is that the teams get a

second chance without starting afresh.

Examples of this are Rossi’s podium

at Jerez Two after a dismal showing at

Jerez One, and the close racing during

Red Bull Two after each team managed

some form of catch up.

Except for Yamaha, who found

themselves putting on the brakes and

finding the lever planting the bar, causing

Vinales to abandon ship.

This is of course after their engine

debacle during the Jerez' where three of

their motors went pop!

These events are indicative of a simple

underlying issue – the motor. It's too

slow.

The problem is simple, but the solution

is less so. At Jerez, the heat and the

slow speeds of the circuit were most

likely the cause of their problems as they

attempted to more drag more revs than

those poor conrods could handle.

Until they overheated the system and

kinda stopped braking entirely, as

Quartararo found when running off the

track twice, and Vinales discovered with a

wall fast approaching.

It’s unsure what dilemmas Yamaha will

face during the rest of the season but,

thankfully, none of the other tracks offer

these unique challenges.

If Yamaha is being a bit reckless, Honda

seems to be overly cautious. For 2020,

they added weight to their motors to

increase rotating inertia. Put simply, too

little rotating inertia causes the rear wheel

to spin, and too much rotating inertia

causes the bike to push the front.

Seemingly, they added a little too much

weight, and so we have three 2020

Hondas circulating where the KTMs used

to be.

Where KTM is thriving, Ducati sees

its share of woes. Miller has been a

delight with his Australian charm mostly

outclassing the two factory machines.

Dovi and Petrucci have had difficulties

with the new Michelin rear tyre that has

too much grip meaning they cannot

slide the rear and use it to aid the

turning process.

The handling concerns might be a bane

in Ducati's existence, but then so is their

star rider. Dovi and the Bolognians have

been engaged in a contract war, one that

was reportedly about money but turned

out to stretch way further than that.

During Red Bull One, Dovi's manager

made the shock announcement that

the Italian would end his eight-year

relationship with Ducati at the end of

this year, citing more than just money

concerns. More so, there are no plans for

his future right now.

Boldness has a new meaning – the only

seat available for next year is with Aprilia

on a MotoGP famously not as good as

anything else. It may seem nutty, but his

decision has some merit – he is 34 years

old, he›s a multimillionaire, and has been

racing since before he could walk. Should

he continue where he isn't having fun?

Speaking of fun, Rossi said he would

continue racing until he stops enjoying it.

At the moment, the maximum age limit

is MotoGP is 50. They are thinking of

extending it.

At Red Bull, the problem was again -

speed.

With engine reliability already an issue,

they had to make up ground in other

areas, such as on the brakes. For this

reason, teams ignored the notice from

Brembo to use their updated calipers

and opted instead to use the standard

calipers that, presumably, offered better

braking.

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