Bearded GP paddock oracle Mike Scott tells all
The common thread is that all three came up through the smaller classes, 125 and 250. On two-strokes. Pedrosa had never raced a four-stroke. Yet they've adapted much quicker to the big 990s than any of the four-stroke hopefuls who came from World Supers to take advantage of the new class.
The two-stroke route was that followed by Rossi. And double race winner Marco Melandri.The four-stroke influx, meantime, saw Troy Bayliss and Ruben Xaus both come to MotoGP, and then go away again. Edwards has survived, but remains (as for some time) only on the brink of revealing his obviously massive potential.
Must be a worry for James Toseland's MotoGP ambitions. While on the other hand Chris Vermeulen looks wise for having jumped off the WSB bus before getting too comfortable. And a reassurance for Chaz Davies, toiling away for little reward on a sub-works 250.
I often worry about young riders whose careers are blighted by being shackled to the wrong motorbike, but hope springs eternal for John Hopkins. He turned down Ducati to keep faith with Suzuki, throwing his confidence behind their promises of a big step forward for 2006.
The innovative air-valve bike looks tasty, goes faster and sounds great, but as the season began its main innovation was in finding new ways of breaking down. Rumours of numbers of engines lunched at Qatar vary between 6 and 13. Hopkins's final blow-up happened early and messily in the race.
We can forgive his Loony Tunes animated tantrum that followed - kicking the bike then punching the gravel. Anyone would do that. Bet that's a clip we'll see again. But among the redesigns required he's going to need some steel toe-caps until reliability is assured.
Rossi stay or go? My bet is he'll leave (reasons below), and that guarantees an epic final season. If Rossi is to overcome Giacomo Agostini's total of 68 top-class race wins, he must win every remaining race this year.
Wouldn't put it past him. He has the talent, and his luck is legendary. He'll certainly be trying.
Why do I think he'll go? One little moment at Jerez. He'd just been knocked off by young buck Elias on the first corner, and as he hit the deck not only did an attacking Honda brush his helmet, but his own team-mate Edwards inched him too. "I thought, 'fuck, there are 10 more!'" he laughed afterwards.
Those are the worst kind of accidents. Consider the appeal, at that moment, of the nice tailor-made racing seat, five-point safety harness and carbon-fibre roll cage offered by an F1 Ferrari.
The nightmare lives! The scare of the four-strokes was always an oily blow-up, precipitating a mass crash.
It finally happened at Jerez, in practice, when one of the d'Antin Ducatis blew a seal and pumped its sump. Rossi was first down; Elias straight after, then two Kawasakis (Nakano and de Puniet). Then
Kenny Roberts. Elias did some comical dodging around and falling over avoiding getting hit, and since nobody ended up hurt it was funny all round.
Oil spills are relatively common (bound to be, really), but this sort of mass crash is mercifully rare.
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