The MotoGP hibernation is over – we are GP living again.
It is once again time for observations and such from Bend, Oregon and yours truly, Emily Miller, Bend’s biggest GP fan. That is my self-assigned title; no one actually nominated me for this. Since this is my blog, I am taking that title and running with it.
What a great race weekend in Qatar? Let me start by saying this though, the Qatar race doesn’t seem super well attended. Why is this? My only guess for this is that the travel costs are too high to get people there, as we all know people do travel for MotoGP races. I know I do. Are the local people there not that into MotoGP? I really am not sure, I am asking you all. It was just a bit odd to see the crowd and the start/finish so sparse.
OK, down to the real business at hand. Yes?
Highlights and low-lights of free practice and qualifying.
I am a little rusty at this since the hibernation but I will muddle through the best I can. There was so much new energy and life in the MotoGP world in Qatar.
Four rookies stepped up from Moto2 this race to start the 2018 season and for the most part they did pretty well. The stars were Franco Morbidelli and Hafizh Syahrin, they managed to do some very formidable riding and had quite respectable results. Tom Luthi experienced the first crash of 2018 and Takaaki Nakagami also got roughed up a bit leaving his confidence shaky. I am, again, guilty of not paying attention to Xavier Simeon. Honestly, is there something about me that can’t focus on this rider? Is it me?!? Next time, I will pay attention!
Poor Karel Abraham had one crappy experience after the next. First, he was hit with the Ducati luck and a mechanical issue leaving him in the paddock much longer than the rest in free practice, then he experienced a crash once he did finally make it out and he rounded it out by getting a tire warmer stuck in his rear wheel during qualifying. No place to go but up for Karel Abraham. Better luck in Argentina.
In Q1, the two top dogs that got the fortune of moving into Q2 were Jack Miller and Maverick Vinales. Vinales never could quite pull it together in Q1 though and ultimately landed way back on the 12th starting spot. Jack Miller ended up in the 10th spot on the grid. Qualifying was Johann Zarco’s time to shine – really, really bright, too. He was faster than fast and broke the circuit record landing him in pole position. Race day was certainly his for the taking and the world seemed abuzz with his impressive performance. No surprise that Marquez landed the second spot on the grid. Danilo Petrucci was also a star in qualifying landing the 3rd spot on the front row for race day. Solid riding from him and also a ton of buzz around him during and after qualifying. Watching Danilo Petrucci closely…
I feel like I want to outline the top few highlights of each race. We are all busy, right? Let’s just go straight to the good bits. When I get my big break in MotoGP coverage then I will analyze every jot and tittle. Still waiting for that call from Dorna - any day now! Make sure to write your recommendation letters, OK?
1. What in this world was happening with Alex Marquez’s red hot rear brake? Was that not the strangest thing? Also, hats off to him for holding 3rd place with this odd malfunction. Seriously, Mattia Passini was breathing down his neck and he is 100% aggressive, 100% of the time. Nice work Alex Marquez, good show.
2. An impressive lead all race and ultimate win for Bagnaia and VR46 academy. Rossi is mentoring such a solid group of riders to lead the next generation.
3. Also, the two KTMs put on a good show this Moto2 race, as well. I believe in the upcoming races we will see some impressive riding and winning from Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder. Qatar was a solid start for the KTM team.
4. For my final observation, poor Sam Lowes and his miserable day in Moto2 with its crescendo of a crash-out. What a total bummer for Sam Lowes. Best wishes to him next race.
YAY! MotoGP! We missed you so! It was such a pleasure to start my Sunday off with a cup of coffee and a race. Blissful! Most definitely in my happy place Sunday morning.
1. This is a pre-race observation, I enjoy that Rossi engages in ritual and gratitude prior to each race. I appreciate that he is an example of thoughtfulness and maturity.
2. Of the rookies starting in MotoGP this year, I really notice that Syahrin and Morbidelli are holding their own and doing good work. Personally, I enjoy both of these riders and their demeanor in the paddock and track. Nakagami seems to be struggling with the new class and has been more apt to crash and/or make errors. Seems natural to me but, oh my gosh, the pressure on these guys. I hope he can keep his confidence and work through the upsets.
3. Let’s talk Lorenzo. What a horrific weekend for him. It was just a shockingly bad weekend culminating in him crashing out of the first race of the season. Are the Factory Ducati arrows pointing towards Danilo Petrucci for 2019? I think maybe so.
4. Rossi, Rossi, Rossi! The man still has it. Am I right??! The “old” guy finishing in 3rd place was a pleasure to watch. He is still such the MotoGP star, legend and winner.
5. Poor old Zarco and his 4th place finish. What an ego crusher for the French rider! This race was certainly his and he started out so solid. We know what he has in him so I still predict some good winning for him this season. I won’t take my eyes off of him for a racing moment.
6. DOVI! The big winner! I felt like the rivalry between him and Marquez didn’t take a winter break at all. We were just right back to it, just as if we were in Valencia again. I wonder if it will continue on all season, don’t you? I really love watching this rivalry so I hope we get to see it continue.
It is time for the three week wait for Argentina now. The countdown is on again. Stay tune, GP people. I will be sharing some juicy GP tidbits and who knows - maybe that sports coverage contract will come through by Argentina. Fingers crossed!
LIFE OF MOTO