25 Jul 2012

MotoGP - the only thing that is certain is uncertainty

Perhaps more infamously known as the ‘silly season’ in Formula One, the Moto GP rumour mill has been in over drive over the past month or two concerning the secondary position at factory Yamaha. Initially it was thought that there may be two rides up for grabs, but with Lorenzo’s contract negotiations resulting in another two years with the factory squad, all eyes began to focus upon Ben Spies.

Over the past few weeks the speculation has been that the seat may be filled by Dovizioso. Not such an alien prospect when you consider that the Italian moved onto a completely new machine in a sense and has competed fairly successfully this season with four 3rd positions which can be compared to his, if he can be called such, more experienced team-mate Cal Crutchlow who has yet to find a step on the podium.

Yet the manner in which Crutchlow managed to power through the pain barrier for his home crowd at Silverstone with a severely swollen left foot. When searching for a rider it is one thing to look for results, but having someone who perhaps is slightly sturdier than his compatriots may result in a points haul at a time when his rivals may be incapacitated from injury.  Similarly, when looking back on the season in terms of performances it has been Crutchlow’s pace throughout the race that has raised so many eyebrows - the only reason why he may not be so successful on the statistics page are a few errors at vital stages in a race that has seen him dropping from 4th or 5th to 8th or 9th and then fighting his way back up again.

However the whisperings of Crutchlow moving to take Spies’ place haven’t been as vocal as the speculation reins over who will be riding for the factory Ducati team next season. With Hayden in a huff over his salary not being paid due to the Audi takeover and all the rumours concerning his ride, Rossi seemingly at logger heads with both his team and the bike, it seems uncertain over whether either of them will be wearing red next season. It is thought that Crutchlow’s style would be more suited to the Ducati’s handling tendencies. The only rider of recent times who has managed to tame the beast being Casey Stoner. Having said that, Hayden hasn’t looked especially uncomfortable and if it were not for some pretty dire tyre wear his championship position may be significantly higher.

Rossi’s future however looks even more confusing with a supposed move to factory Yamaha being on the cards. Given the victorys that the combination had, it would be fair to say that such a move wouldn’t end in tears like it would seem this marriage of Italian upon an Italian machine has done. But from the mutterings of a Valentino – Audi conversation, you would be a brave man to bet against the ever stubborn 9 times world champion to shy away from a challenge.

The only thing which is perhaps certain is that Ben Spies will not be riding with factory Yamaha next year. It is understandable, although the circumstances surrounding his lack of pace have been confusing to say the least - at a time when he looked to be getting to grips with the format around this time last year. As a result the Texan may turn back to the World Superbikes once more and will find a healthy, competitive field to match himself against.

Certainly the ‘silly season’ is in full flow and the grape-vine is our only companion in the way of knowledge. But I think the one thing that is for certain is to expect something fairly logical.

Article by Liam Stroud aka @scuderiastroud