Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rossi vs Pedrosa: The battle that never happened, and a MotoGP season that's gone awry

In 2006, everyone was saying Rossi and Pedrosa would be fighting for the 2007 MotoGP world championship. Casey Stoner had other ideas... :-)

The Dutch TT at Assen, the ninth MotoGP event of the 2007 season, is just three days away. And Valentino ‘The Doctor’ Rossi, who is 26 points behind a certain Mr Stoner in the world championship standings, wants a decisive win this time around. He needs the win to close the points gap. And he needs it even more to make a psychological comeback. The Doctor says ‘I wasn’t happy after the race at Donington Park on Sunday, but we know what our problems are – now we need to fix them. I’m happy to get the chance to ride again so soon and forget about the race at Donington, because I was so disappointed to finish fourth at a circuit I love so much.’

Assen is, of course, a legendary circuit. Says Rossi, ‘It’s another of my favourite tracks. It’s a shame they had to change the circuit layout last year – they have removed the most exciting part of the track, which I still cannot understand. Anyway, Assen is still a legendary place, with a great atmosphere and great fans. Hopefully we can make a good show for them and be competitive like we know we can be once again.’

Nicky Hayden, who won the 2006 MotoGP world championship, is going exactly nowhere this season. Will he remain with HRC for 2008? Don't bet on it...

Eight races down, the 2007 MotoGP season is turning out to be a bit of a surprise. The much-hyped Rossi-Pedrosa battle hasn’t materialized at all. Stoner, who wasn’t really supposed to be anywhere in the picture, is winning everything, while Rossi is barely hanging on to second spot in the championship. Honda, surprisingly, haven’t been able to make a winning 800cc MotoGP bike. Suzuki seem to be having a resurgence of sorts, and even Kawasaki are catching up. So a season gone all topsy-turvy then.

In fact, things are so messed up that now there are reports saying that Dani Pedrosa may leave Honda and go elsewhere in 2008. While Melandri and Hayden have been saying things to the effect that Honda / HRC are far too focused on Pedrosa and ignoring their other riders, Pedrosa himself doesn’t, apparently, think so.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Mundo recently, Pedrosa said ‘It’s not necessary to close the doors on other options. It’s not necessary to think that there is only one option available to me. If there are much better things, I am not going to refrain from them in order to stay here with something not so good.’ So there you are – a declaration from the young Spaniard, which makes it clear that unless Honda can give him a bike that’s capable of beating Stoner’s Ducati, Pedrosa will look elsewhere!

Pedrosa, HRC's great white hope for 2007, has threatened to leave Honda unless he's given bikes that can beat Stoner's Ducati. Ironical...?

There are two sides to this story. The British MotoGP at Donington Park was the ninth successive race where Honda did not win. This is their longest winless streak in 17 years! The flip side is, it’s not just Honda – Stoner’s Ducati has been thrashing pretty much everyone and everything else on the track, so where exactly will Pedrosa go?

The Spaniard says, ‘I did not hope for this. It looked better from the outside. From the first race we have not taken any great steps and I don't know if we will be able to do much more before the end of the season.’ Hard words indeed, and from a man who has a reputation for not showing too much emotion.

If Pedrosa (and, indeed, Hayden as well!) does leave Honda and join some other team for 2008, it will be another hard blow for the Honda / HRC ego. When Rossi left Honda and joined Yamaha for the 2004 season, HRC claimed they would do everything in their power to 'destroy' Rossi. Rossi rubbed their faces in dirt by winning the 2004 and 2005 MotoGP world championships. Motorsport.com have a brilliant five-part story, which talks about the rise of Rossi, his breakup with Honda, and his subsequent move to Yamaha. Get it here. As for the next chapter in the HRC / Pedrosa saga, stay tuned – we’ll be bringing more breaking news for you shortly...!

Also see:
The MotoGP oldtimer: Loris Capirossi
The Honda RC212V: What went wrong...?
Riding impression: Rizla Suzuki GSV-R!
Kenny Roberts' MotoGP-powered KR-V5 Boardtracker, and KR Tuned
Memorable: The Cagiva 500 GP racer
Ron Haslam: How to go faster on the track

1 comment:

theslayer said...

Why does Honda have to do that? Isn't a racing team supposed to devote time and resources to all of its riders? If Pedrosa does leave HRC,there couldn't be a happier person on earth than me :D Honda deserved it!

PS: This does NOT have anything to do with my grudge against Honda for not bringing in the Twister to India :P

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