And you thought Casey Stoner was short!
I’ve just got to start this month by talking about Australia, and Casey Stoner. He did what he set out to do by making everyone look absolutely stupid. The two previous races in Japan and Malaysia were clearly just warm-ups for him; he only had Phillip Island in mind. We were stood with some riders during practice sessions in the pits who were watching him and his times, and they literally couldn’t believe what he was doing. Ben Spies (at home) even said that all the riders in MotoGP, Spies included, has no clue how Casey rides the way he does. They are all in awe of him, which makes it even harder to deal with the fact he’s leaving.
At the last race at Valencia he wasn’t happy at all until Tuesday morning, when he got to say all of his goodbyes and drove out of the paddock, looking the happiest we’ve seen him for years. And that’s him gone, probably the greatest rider we’ve ever seen. And he’s already signed to race cars, so that’s that.
One rider looking happier was Valentino Rossi, back on his Yamaha. But I must say I have serious reservations about whether he can turn back time. He’s just had two years of ‘nightmare punishment’, and those aren’t my words, but from somewhere within his crew. Valencia was so embarrassing for him, being lapped and finishing behind James Ellison, as well as other CRT machines. I never thought I’d see the day when Rossi gave up, but then he’d actually given up some time ago. Remember his crash at Laguna Seca? His body language then said it all, that was the point when he gave up, and that’s hugely disappointing to say. I hope I’m wrong though, and I also don’t think that Rossi will care if WSB is dumbed down, if he’s going to stay in bikes, he’ll still go there because he loves racing.
Honda’s new RCV-1 looks to be stupidly expensive and basically a proper MotoGP bike. I think Dorna will put the kibosh on that one, I just can’t see any of the other manufacturers allowing it. Even the road bike version is meant to cost around £70,000 and how is that going to be fair for WSB? Aprilia has shown that it’s possible to build a V4 sportsbike that can be sold for £15,000, and when slightly modified can lap within three seconds of Jorge Lorenzo. This is likely Honda’s way of making sure it rules the roost in WSB and, yeah, it could start a ‘proddy special’ war, but otherwise Honda could walk it. Having said that, so long as the tyres remain the big equalling factor, it may not have the large advantage Honda is hoping for, but we’ll see...
Speaking of advantages, wee Marc Marquez isn’t a bad shout for wins next year. He was ridiculous at Valencia, winning from the back, it was like watching a Playstation game being played during the onboard shots. He is going to be formidable, and Rossi’s Yamaha return could be completely overshadowed by the diminutive Spaniard. He’s going to be good, no doubt.
I’m also looking forward to seeing who gets these M1 Yamaha engines that have been touted as a possibility. Though Colin Edwards, bless him, needs to go do something else and I’d love to see him win one race in WSB before he quits.
Going back to Australia, I was out having drinks with Daryl Beattie and Leigh Diffey, who I used to commentate with. We were outside a bar, and I put one of my fake dog poos in front of the door. Around 4pm is when all the builders go for a drink, but the poo looks so real, that the first one actually tripped and fell over trying to avoid it! Then he went and had a big go at the barman, who had to shut up shop to clean it up! Of course, we were far too drunk to not admit to setting it up, and then all the builders in the boozer wanted a big fight! Me, Leigh and Daryl actually had to run away as fast as we could before we got battered. Undignified, perhaps, but fuck me was it ever funny!