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GP Week : Issue 22
ight >>GPWEEKOPINION for he had driven a brilliant, faultless race, pulling off a gutsy move on Hamilton to take the lead and then dominating a race he was never expected to win. Only cruel fate would steal it from him. The team that prospered rtakes race leader Michael Schumaker race of 11 years ago, and the Hungarian Grand Prix we witnessed in 2008. In both, the stand out car and driver of the moment was completely importantly upgraded. Purists look at other things: most especially the level of the machinery and the competition. A MotoGP bike is certainly more exotic, if only by virtue of the purpose-built chassis, engine and cassette gearbox, and carbon brakes. The level of the riders? That’s been a matter for debate for years. Fact is, though the whole game is fundamentally similar, the cross-over between the two has always been fraught. Going to MotoGP, a string of riders have serially failed to match their status in the other series. Foggy never got a real chance, but double champion Colin Edwards has yet to win a race in almost six years; while the likes of Nori Haga and Troy Corser made little impression. outclassed and out driven. For whatever reason, Felipe Massa was just on another planet in Budapest on Sunday afternoon. The win was deservedly his, back in 1997 was the one that housed the eventual champion. And on the basis of the last few races, there are many who would argue the same is true of Hungary 2008. The only difference is that while Heikki Kovalainen joined the likes of Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to have broken their F1 winning cherry at the Hungaroring, it is most likely Heikki’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton who will take this year’s championship. Hamilton was desperately unlucky in Hungary. When his tyre deflated, I, along with many of my colleagues, assumed that it was Hamilton’s use of the tyres that had caused the issue… that much like Turkey or China 2007 or Turkey again this year, the McLaren man had simply battered the hell out of his tyres and was suffering the consequences. Post-race analysis however suggests a puncture was to blame. Luck is a cruel mistress. She giveth, and she taketh away. Two weeks ago, much was made of the luck which had carried Nelson Piquet to his first F1 podium. Much the same could be said of Kovalainen’s first win, or Glock’s first podium in Hungary, for neither would have happened without the misfortune of Hamilton and Massa. OK, neither of them had started from 17th, but still… luck plays an undeniable role in all racing results. And yet, despite a puncture and the loss of a potential win, Hamilton leaves Hungary with an increased championship lead… Luck… she’s either with you, or against you. And thankfully for us, as fans of this sport, it doesn’t seem she’s knows who MotoGP, but since then finding the waters rather deep. And in Supers, MotoGP cast-off and general veteran Carlos Checa has found a new lease of life. There is of course an World Superbikes Traffic in the other direction was not much more conclusive, though to be fair many of those making the step were at the wrong end of their careers. More might certainly have been expected of Max Biaggi; and Alex Barros took a long while to settle in. John Kocinski, on the other hand, did make it look easy, and did better in SBK than he had in the 500 class. Fast forward to today, and we have Toseland starting well in exception that proves the rule. Troy Bayliss is dominant in Superbikes yet again this year, heading inexorably towards a third title, eight years after his first. In three MotoGP years he made a fair start with Ducati, but ended up on a downbeat Honda before returning from whence he came. That was until his return for the one race, the last round of 2006. Determined to show the Ducati factory team exactly what it had lost, he won it hands down. There was no doubt about the quality of the rider that day. 21