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Qatar MotoGP Fallout: Fractured Rib for Lorenzo, Teams Protest Ducati and Rins’ “Embarrassing” Corner Speed

Repsol Honda’s Jorge Lorenzo

Following the opening round of the MotoGP championship at Qatar, several newsworthy items have been reported.

First of all, several teams protested a device used by three Ducatis during the race (those ridden by winner Andrea Dovizioso, as well as 6th place Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller, who did not finish) that directed air to the rear wheel/tire. Ducati claims the device did not provide aerodynamic benefits and was simply to help cool the rear tire, but competitors disagreed and protested. The protest was quickly rejected by the FIM MotoGP Stewards, but that decision has been appealed by four factories to the MotoGP Court of Appeals. MD will report when we learn the results of that appeal.

Note the small scoop beneath the fairing and just in front of the rear tire on Danilo Petrucci’s Ducati – this is the device under protest.

New Honda rider Jorge Lorenzo crashed twice last weekend, including a nasty high-side. After reporting that he was sore “all over”, he nevertheless competed in the race and finished in 13th position. Lorenzo then underwent health tests with his own physician following the race, and a rib fracture was discovered – an injury that is unlikely to prevent his participation in the next round in Argentina in three week’s time. This is further testament to Lorenzo’s toughness, however, as he has previously competed while he was injured and in significant pain.

In post-race interviews, both Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and Alex Rins (Suzuki) discussed the impressive speed the Suzuki rider had through the tight, twisty sections of the Qatar track. Dovizioso, who was passed several times by Rins in the infield, only to blast back into the lead on the lengthy front straightaway, termed Rins’ corner speed so impressive as to be “embarrassing”. Rins stated he felt he could have won the race had his Suzuki kept pace with the Ducatis and Hondas on the front straightaway.

Watch for MD’s coverage of the Argentina round the weekend of March 29-31.


See more of MD’s great photography: Instagram

24 Comments

  1. Artem says:

    Andrea is cool.
    Yet, I like George

  2. denhajm says:

    Meanwhile, as the Teams complain about Ducati’s rear tire fins, they’re busy building their own for the next race. Just in case.

  3. fred says:

    It’s amazing how many people (not just here) seem to think that they are aerodynamicists. I seriously doubt all of the critics. It was approved prior to the race, so the results will stand. It may wind up being disapproved eventually.

    As for Dovisioso, he is obviously a capable rider. I’m not convinced that he suddenly became an alien, but it really doesn’t matter what I think. IMHO, Rossi is still a capable rider. His efforts are impressive. Again, it doesn’t matter what I think, but I don’t expect him to win any more races, but I do think that he will pick up at least one podium this year.

    As a Lorenzo fan, it’s been hard watching his recent run of injuries. I don’t like it when any of the riders get hurt, but I especially miss seeing the ones at the top of the talent heap unable to ride at the top of their game. Even with the injuries, Jorge was able to regain several positions over the last few laps, including passing Crazy Joe right near the finish. I really look forward to seeing a healthy Lorenzo competing on the Honda.

    Lots of riders put in impressive races. It should be a great year. I have mixed feelings about the whole processional for the whole race until the last few laps, but it does look good on TV.

  4. bmbktmracer says:

    The “aero device” controversy is ridiculous. The margin of victory was 23 milliseconds, or approximately 1 millisecond per lap. Last year the gap was 27 milliseconds. Getting cooler air onto the rear tire, which has airflow blocked by the front tire, seems smart. The idea that it’d be providing downforce is ridiculous because it’s in turbulent air and in front of the tire, thereby having minimal leverage.

    As for Yamaha needing more power, don’t forget Vinales qualified first. That is, with soft tires and aggressive mapping, he had the fastest lap. After the first lap, Rossi was 2.02 seconds behind Dovizioso. At the finish line, he was just 0.6 seconds behind and gaining. Please explain to me how that qualifies as a power deficit.

  5. bmbktmracer@yahoo.com says:

    The “aero device” controversy is ridiculous. The margin of victory was 23 milliseconds, or approximately 1 millisecond per lap. Last year the gap was 27 milliseconds. Getting cooler air onto the rear tire, which has airflow blocked by the front tire, seems smart. The idea that it’d be providing downforce is ridiculous because it’s in turbulent air and in front of the tire, thereby having minimal leverage.

    As for Yamaha needing more power, don’t forget Vinales qualified first. That is, with soft tires and aggressive mapping, he had the fastest lap. After the first lap, Rossi was 2.02 seconds behind Dovizioso. At the finish line, he was just 0.6 seconds behind and gaining. Please explain to me how that qualifies as a power deficit.

    • VLJ says:

      Watch the race. Specifically, watch what happens every time the Yamahas and Suzukis are annihilated by the Ducatis (and now the Hondas, as well) on the main straight. Then watch races from any of the past two seasons that involve long straights.

      The answer to your question should become pretty clear.

      If it still isn’t, then let’s try a different tact. There’s this thing in racing called ‘drafting,’ whereby a slower bike is able to stay ‘in the draft’ of a faster bike by hanging onto the faster bike’s rear wheel, thus reducing the wind drag on the trailing bike. This tactic allows slower bikes to stay with faster bikes, but what it doesn’t do is allow slower bikes to pass faster bikes, which is precisely what Maverick explained, post-race. He could hang with the others. He could catch up to them, but he couldn’t pass them. Conversely, they could pass him or gap him anytime they wanted, as soon as they hit the straights.

      That’s the difference between practice or qualifying, vs actual racing. In qualifying, on a clear track, Maverick can often run a great time. Once he gets stuck in traffic during a race, however, he can’t pass the faster bikes. Also, in trying to stay with those faster bikes, he and Rossi and Rins are forced to burn up their tires in the corners, which is the only place where they can make up time on the faster bikes. This is why they tend to fade late in races, while Dovi’s Ducati doesn’t fade at all. By not having to push so hard in the corners all race long, he is able to save his tires.

      Qualifying, vs racing. Do not confuse the two.

  6. Neil says:

    Nice to see Rins up at the front. Anyone who pushes MM back is good to me. We need new people up at the front. Interesting to see Rossi fading a bit more. His is 40 after all, which is amazing too having watched his whole MotoGP career.

    • Jeremy says:

      Like some, I can’t be so sure Rossi is fading. It seems more to me that the Yamaha is fading. I think he’d still be a contender were the Yamaha on more equal footing to the Ducati and Honda. Honestly, that still might not be enough for him to take another championship, but I’d bet he would be a threat.

      • Dave says:

        While I acknowledge that the Yamaha has some shortcomings, the sentence would more accurately read:

        “I think he’d still be a contender were the Yamaha on more equal footing to the Dovi’s Ducati and Marquez’ Honda.”

        Without those two guys, the championship looks completely different and everyone else riding bikes by those two makes are trying to figure out how to beat the Yamahas.

        • Jeremy says:

          “the sentence would more accurately read: ‘I think he’d still be a contender were the Yamaha on more equal footing to the Dovi’s Ducati and Marquez’ Honda.'”

          I disagree with you, there. And you make my point really when you said “without those two guys.” Their bikes are factory machines, but Dovi and Marc are providing the magic that routinely puts those bikes in front.

          Yamaha has two guys too – Mav and Rossi – who have that same magic, IMO. And without them, nobody would be trying to figure out how to beat the Yamahas. It would be fairly easy for anyone on a ’19 Honda or Ducati, and could be done by a Suzuki on any given Sunday seeing as they seem to be on pretty equal footing with Yamaha right now. People are trying to figure out how to beat two cream-of-the-crop racers on marginal (by factory standards) equipment.

          Rossi and Vinales clearly have the talent to be podium threats every race. What they lack is the package. The Yamaha needs to put more power to the ground and eat less tire doing it. Period. Poor Rins is right there with them.

          • Dave says:

            But other very skilled racers cannot produce the same results with the Honda or Ducati. If those bikes were superior, Maverick and Vale would be losing to them, too, or at least not beating them by so much.

            As another poster above points out, at the end of lap 1, Rossi was 2.02 seconds behind the leader. At the finish, he was 0.6 sec. behind. How does that work?

          • Anonymous says:

            Rossi was in somebody’s draft the entire race. If he ever hit clear air he would have lost the leaders.

          • VLJ says:

            Also, from the moment early on when Dovi took the lead, he was controlling the pace of the race. He was intentionally maintaining a very slow pace, to save his tires. Even so, it took everything the Suzukis and Yamahas had just to stay with Dovi and Marc, and still it wasn’t quite enough. Had Dovi needed to go faster in order to win, he easily could have.

            As for Dovi being some sort of crazy alien, people are blinded by his recent results. Dovi is the same guy who spent many years on factory Hondas and never did a thing. He also never did a thing on the factory Ducati, until Unibrow arrived in Bologna and immediately transformed the factory bike.

            Dovi is on an overdog bike right now. That’s it. Were he and Rossi or Maverick to switch bikes, they would be beating him just as regularly as he is now beating them.

            And please don’t try to compare the nightmarish Ducati that Rossi rode to the Bridgestones-shod monster Stoner rode in 2007, or any of Dovi’s recent red missiles.

            Apples and cannelloni.

          • Jeremy says:

            “But other very skilled racers cannot produce the same results with the Honda or Ducati.”

            Again, I disagree. My point is that Dovi, Marc, Rossi and Mav are elites among the elites. Lorenzo is part of that club, IMO, and will eventually be kicking Yamahas around, too. Contrary to many other GP fans, I also think Crutchlow is part of that group, and he does routinely beat the factory Yamahas, on a satellite bike no less. So does Rins on his Suzuki.

            What other skilled racers are riding Factory Hondas and Ducatis? Only Petrucci, right now. Maybe he’s got it, but I’m not sold yet that he is part of that elite club, though he did manage to beat one of the Yamahas in Qatar anyway and beat them both several times last year.

            As far as Rossi finishing with a .6 second gap, I don’t think that means much. Dovi intentionally held up the race pace on a “Yamaha” track, so everyone practically was able to keep up fairly well. Rossi finishing where he did is more a testament to his talent than his kit.

            That isn’t to say that the Yamahas can’t put in fast laps; they absolutely can as Vinales has demonstrated many times during testing and qualifying. The problem is that they seem to be entirely corner speed bikes. They lack the grip to overtake the best riders out of the turn and the power to overtake on the straights. Those flowing lines the Yamaha riders take to be fast can be easily disrupted by block passes on most tracks on the calendar. They have to ride more defensively, and that slows them down. They have trouble overtaking other riders even if those riders are slower, and that slows them down.

            How many wins have the Yamahas had the past two years? Without clear track in front of them, they have a difficult time being fast. The Yamahas aren’t up to snuff. If they are, then that means that Mav and Rossi aren’t up to snuff and need to be replaced by Marc/Dovi caliber riders, and I just don’t believe that is the case.

  7. Stan says:

    It’s very clear to all that Rins needs a bit more power! Great ride.

    • TimC says:

      Indeed. Also applies to that Rossi guy. Yamaha forgot the MOTOR part of “Cycle” awhile back apparently.

  8. Joseph says:

    I see that. They invented the motorcycle after all.