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The Implications of Max Biaggi’s Two 6th Place Finishes at Misano (Including the Michele Pirro Factor)

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What Max Biaggi did at Misano this weekend is interesting for a number of reasons. Let’s get this out of the way first, finishing 6th in each race was probably more impressive than his performance in the early practice sessions that we reported on Friday. In the second race, Biaggi finished less than 6 seconds behind the winner. Remarkable, but then there is the Michele Pirro factor.

You may know that Michele Pirro is the lead Ducati test rider. Pirro is generally considered the fastest test rider on the planet (let’s leave out Casey Stoner for the moment), and Pirro finished 8th in a MotoGP race just a few weeks ago at Mugello. In finishing 8th, Pirro made quick work of several, fast MotoGP regulars, including one on a factory Honda, Scott Redding, who finished nearly 10 seconds behind Pirro.

Pirro also finished 8th in each WSB race at Misano earlier today, 6 seconds behind Biaggi in Race 1 and 4 seconds behind Biaggi in Race 2. Pirro was on a very competitive bike, the same Ducati 1199R frequently seen near the front under Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies. Of course, having finished 6th, Biaggi beat several other highly rated WSB regulars at nearly 44 years of age after more than 2 years away from racing.

What do Pirro’s results say about the quality of the field in WSB versus MotoGP? Pirro’s time gap to the top riders when he finished 8th at Mugello was far greater than his time gap earlier today in the Misano round of the WSB championship. Clearly the top riders in MotoGP are quicker, but if Pirro can finish 8th in a MotoGP race as a wildcard, on a competitive bike, Biaggi could still be a top 10 rider in MotoGP.

“Competitive bike” being the key phrase. Most of the riders who come over to MotoGP from WSB spend at least their first year on a backmarker’s machine … something no one could win on (not even Marc Marquez). WSB produces quality riders, and don’t be surprised to see Jonathan Rea on a MotoGP bike before too long. With the MotoGP rule changes next year, more riders should be aboard competitive machinery.

26 Comments

  1. Gary says:

    A few too many “what ifs,” in my opinion. Delighted to see Biaggi back, and I hope kicks some youngster arse.

  2. Bill says:

    lets bring back Maladin and see what is what

  3. jimmihaffa says:

    While his feat is certainly impressive, I think age does factor in for reasons of:
    1. Trajectory…doubtful he’s going to improve from his current form.
    2. Tragedy…doubtful he could recuperate from relatively minor injury as quick as a young rider

  4. AFW says:

    Biaggi is fast but with age comes more reticence. His smooth riding style probably allows him to stay pretty fast into his mid 40’s. Lorenzo is more likely to have a longer racing career than his polar opposite Marquez.

  5. Guu says:

    I really didn’t get your point about Biaggi. He’s a 6 time world champ and the winner of who knows how many races, that retired as a champion only two seasons ago and has tested since. No reason to think he doesn’t know how to go extremely fast. Bayliss won a MotoGP race (his one and only) as a wild card so that can be done also.

    • Neil says:

      BUt look at the other riders in the top six. They are on the bike day in and day out. Rea has upped his game for sure as well as just being a great fit for the WHO KNEW Kawasaki, KAW having clearly upped their game since being in the doldrums for years.

    • BergDonk says:

      Bayliss did a couple of seasons of MotoGP without much success. then went back to WSBK, then did the wildcard race and won. He’s done more than one MotoGP race, but that takes nothing away from his wildcard win.

  6. mickey says:

    Mugello was a crash fest and many back markers ended up top 10 that would normally never be that close to the front. Marquez, A Espargaro, Crutchlow, Hayden, Bradl, Dovisioso all out allowed Pirro, Petrucci and Hernandez to finish in the top 10. I wouldn’t count that one placing to gauge Pirros ability to compete in MotoGP, and if he is the fastest rider on the planet ( not counting Stoner as you put it) why did he finish 8 th in the WSBK race and not first? Apparently there are a lot of riders faster than Pirro, at least 7 in WSBK and a slew in MotoGP.

    Be interesting to see Biaggi back in MotoGP, he was certainly very quick in MotoGP first go round, and top 10, as in 9 th or 10 th is probably where he would end up due to attrition of those in front of him. Just my opinion.

    • Dave says:

      The sentence in the article says: . “Pirro is generally considered the fastest TEST rider on the planet”
      He still beat a slew of competitive MotoGP riders, despite those who would’ve beaten him. The point is, his placing in MotoGP was very similar to his placing in WSBK, showing that the two series are not that different in levels of competition.

      Biaggi’s results are incredible when we consider how long he’s been away. Makes you wonder why Bayliss couldn’t do better.

      • mickey says:

        The point is, his placing in MotoGP was very similar to his placing in WSBK, showing that the two series are not that different in levels of competition.

        Yea, right!

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Makes you wonder why Bayliss couldn’t do better.”

        not so much, the Law of NATCORK answered this question before you even asked it.

        • mickey says:

          Fact is if all 18 or whatever MotoGP riders ( or WSBK riders or all Moto 3 riders..doesn’t matter) were all on exactly identical bikes, they would not all cross the finish line at the same time. Someone would be first by virtue of talent, skill, and desire and someone would be 18 th some distance back due to not having as much of those talents as the guy finishing first. The best guys on the best bikes are generally going to win, and the guys GET the best bikes, by showing they are indeed the best riders. If a guy doesn’t have a top ride, it’s simply because he hasn’t earned it yet… And that’s how it is in all professional sports, including motorcycle racing.

          • TooGood619 says:

            If this was a true statement “If a guy doesn’t have a top ride, it’s simply because he hasn’t earned it yet…” Then why did HONDA opt to build a bike for the midget Dani Pedrosa in 2007 instead of their 2006 championship winning ace Nicky Hayden? There are more factors to be weighed then just the riders performance. Why did MM93 start off on a factory ride and Super Sic got a satellite ride? There are way more factors…

          • mickey says:

            Toogood, you do realize among many factors that Pedrosa was a 3 time world champion in 2006 (1-125 and 2×250) including in 04 and 05, and that Haydens WC win was not what anyone, even VLJ, would call dominating, but more like surviving while everyone else wins, crashes and blows up their bikes and that GP changes going forward called for a smaller 800cc engine that required more of a carrying a high corner speed like a 250, than the point and shoot method Hayden used on the 1000’s, and that also Hayden had a distaste for electronics which were becoming more mainstream on the bikes and in fact in 2007 requested that Honda turn his off. Pedrosa had no problem with them, ie didn’t put up a fight with the Honda engineers and brass. In fact in 2007 Hayden was given Hondas only pneumatic valve engine which was reported to be superior and Pedrosa got the ” old” engine and even still Pedrosa was on the podium far more than Hayden in 2007 . Still in 2008 Hayden was given a factory Honda, but at the end of that season it was HIS decision to move on to Ducati.

            MM was also a 125 and Moto2 WC the year before he got the factory Honda ride.

            Simoncelli rode 125 GPs and 250 GPs for 6 years winning 1 WC in 2008 on the 250 and moved to a satellite ride for Honda in 2010. Hardly comparable records to Pedrosa or MM.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Honda weighed and measured Hayden and came to the conclusion that he lucked out that championship year and wouldn’t pose a real threat to the best racers out there going forward. He was (is) very good, just not good enough by Honda’s measure to keep earning a ride on a Repsol. They decided to bet on someone else who they felt would be more effective. Same with Marquez. Of the talent pool available for immediate hire, Honda decided Marquez was their best bet (after no doubt evaluating him over lots of test laps aboard the Repsol.) He earned his ride by impressing the hell out of Honda and no doubt embarrassing some other applicants for the job.

          • Dave says:

            The rules were changed to allow Marquez to be on a factory team in his rookie year. All rookies had to ride in a satellite team prior to that.

        • Dave says:

          Bayliss had the competitive Ducati, which Chaz Davies has consistently run up front with, and finished far lower than the machine’s capabilities. NATCORK could be considered a factor, but not *the* factor in Bayliss’ case.

        • Brian says:

          Bayliss wasn’t riding a recalcitrant kit.

    • Artem_T says:

      Interesting that he is old, but still fast

      • Norm G. says:

        interesting that so many have been suckered into placing emphasis on youth in motorsport.

        • mickey says:

          Yea, where are Agostini and KR SR when you need them? Lol

        • Dave says:

          Motorcycles do not lump into the same category as “motorsport”. Racing a motorcycle places many additional requirements on the pilot than racing a car does. Very few motorcycle racers have raced successfully into their 40’s. Why would a well paid, winning racer leave?

          • guu says:

            I would argue that most motorcycle racers at the top have a career span of about 25 years. Its just that some start at 3 and some (Biaggi at 19 for example) at much later age. Then the injuries and the pressures catch up.

  7. VLJ says:

    Anybody who doubts that Max (given equal machinery) will always be fighting at the front, well, he or she simply hasn’t been paying attention these past two decades. #3 is and always has been world-class fast. Despite his myriad issues during his Grand Prix career, he was consistently among the very fastest and most competitive guys on the grid.