Michael Scott Column - Sep 09

Scott digs deep into the difference in psyche between TT and GP racers, ponders Honda's return to form, Edwards' sexual preferences and Stoner's mystery illness

Posted: 27 September 2009
by Michael Scott

Pitbull hasn’t been to the TT almost since light pedal assistance was banned in 1908 (actually since the incident with the horse … and if you have to ask, you don’t want to know), but I have never let up in my combination of admiration for and bafflement with TT racers. Balls of steel, all the way to the stone wall.

So I was anxious to see how The Great One would respond, after his first visit as the guest of Dainese. Rossi respects history (including his own); and knows exactly how much the TT means.

He did a lap in company with Ago, and though much was spent waving and pulling wheelies, he was also able to experience for the first time a pleasure enjoyed by TT racers and Mad Sunday-ers alike. Really fast riding on the road, opening up the R1 all the way in fifth and sixth gears. With Ago showing him the lines over the Mountain Mile, he got enough of a taste to say he’d love to go back and run five or six laps more. Just to understand it better.

He also met the top TT riders, now averaging an astounding 131 mph. “When you speak to them, you can see from their eyes,” he said a few days later, “that they are a little bit crazy.”
Two days after that, he rode maybe the riskiest and certainly one of the most daring last laps in his life, to snitch past Lorenzo to win the Catalunyan GP.

There is a difference, though.

Had it all gone wrong, had the pair tangled in his last-corner attack, there’d be a better than even chance that they’d both walk away.

Last month we wrote about how the balance of power at Yamaha was swinging Lorenzo’s way. That Catalunya win, followed by another at Assen, showed Rossi re-establishing himself. Mightily.

Then Jorge started to crash again, twice, at Laguna. It’s not over yet, of course; but the current battle isn’t even on the track. Rossi’s sky-high fee (say £4-million a year) is already signed and sorted for 2010. Lorenzo, on the other hand, is still negotiating.

And hard.

He’s keenly aware of his value, and no longer willing to run for support-star wages. He wants to be paid like Rossi.

At a time when all budgets are shrinking, this puts Yamaha in a tight spot.
Can they afford to keep two of the very best riders on the grid?
Can they afford not to?

Honda enters. Honda wins. That used to be the slogan, all those years ago. In America, it came true again. For the first time in more than a year.

Pedrosa’s win was a typical runaway rabbit job – start to finish. He nearly blew it by slowing on the last lap. Rossi all but passed him. Clearly Dani has forgotten the finer points of how to make sure you win.

(Like countryman “Hooligan” Simon, who at Catalunya celebrated his fine 125 win a lap too soon. “I should have realised when I didn’t see the chequered flag,” he said later. Doh!)

Does it mean the big H is back at last? Has the August company solved the tribulations that have spoiled its performance in a made-to-measure Honda-friendly 800cc class?

Bear in mind that, on the same new chassis, team-mate Dovizioso – usually the most reliable of riders – had two successive front-end fall-offs in two races. And Dani had done exactly the same at Assen.

A win at last is good. But it’s too precarious to start celebrating just yet.

The things they say: Colin Edwards gave an interview to an Italian bike mag that had the paddock rollicking at Assen. The talk veered towards sex, and the tobacco-chewin’ Tornado responded enthusiastically.

His special gesture (first two fingers upright, ring finger folded, little finger erect) was easily understood, he said, “by girls who like it”.

There was more. His penis, while not especially long, had a tremendous girth, he revealed. “Like this Coke here.”

Having just interviewed him myself without any such disclosures, Pitbull felt slightly miffed. Why hadn’t he told me this? On second thoughts, however, I was rather relieved.

Casey Stoner’s “mystery virus” is a doozy: causing mid-race fatigue, nausea (he puked twice in his helmet in Catalunya), stomach cramps and arm-pump problems. Nobody can doubt its authenticity, seeing his pitiful state after the last three races. And he still hit the rostrum twice!

But it looks as though his title challenge is over, unless he can get sorted really soon.
That’s not the way with mystery viruses, however. They tend to take their time.

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