It is no overstatement to say that Casey Stoner, and Honda, have dominated this year’s MotoGP championship. Despite a DNF that was not his fault in Jerez (Valentino Rossi knocked him over like a bowling pin), Stoner has won nine races and clinched the title with two races remaining. Honda swept the podium at Phillip Island in part thanks to the difficulties suffered by Yamaha over the weekend (resulting in a DNS for both Lorenzo and Spies), but Honda has also clearly deserved this Constructor’s title (again, clinched two rounds early).
With two races remaining, Stoner has that rare opportunity to win ten or more races in a single series (he has already accomplished this once by winning ten races in 2007 … aboard a Ducati, no less). Leaving aside his DNF at Jerez, Stoner has been on the podium at every round held so far this year. So you can add the word “consistency” to your description of this dominating season.
Will things change next year with the 1000cc bikes? Given that Honda seems well along with its development of next year’s bike, Stoner has to be the favorite to repeat his title, but things should certainly be more interesting in 2012.
Ben Spies and Marco Simoncelli have come on like gangbusters in their sophomore seasons, and as the two biggest/heaviest riders in MotoGP, they should welcome the mega-power and torque that should virtually erase any disadvantage they have had on the smaller machinery. Spies, in particular, with his AMA and WSB crowns aboard tuned 1000s should feel right at home. Lorenzo has also been quick on the Yamaha 1000cc prototype during testing, virtually matching Casey Stoner’s pace on the new Honda.
Rossi and Hayden over at Ducati have to be the big question mark for next year. While Rossi can certainly ride any displacement bike well (winning titles in the 990cc era), and Hayden’s style works better with the bigger displacement (he won his only title on a 990cc bike), Ducati seems dazed and confused at the moment. With their chassis alone, they have changed development direction so many times their heads must be spinning. They are certainly behind Honda and Yamaha in development of their 1000cc race bike.