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GP Week : Issue 162
27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: IS THREE IN A ROW TOO MANY? SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS The paddock heaved a mutual sigh of relief on Sunday evening – the end of an intensive three weekends in a row. Hardly time to draw breath in between – and not even that much for the real hard workers – driving, setting up and then serving in the team catering and hospitality units. So who didn’t look haggard and drawn by the end of it? Step forward the riders – or some of them. A quick straw poll of the top names revealed less hostility to the schedule than expected. “I like it,” said Nicky Hayden. “I grew up doing it, so I’m used to it. But I’m glad they’re not all three in a row.” Dovizioso was not opposed. “For me, learning this bike, it’s perfect. You only have four days then you ride again. But three races are enough. Everybody has a life.” Monster Yamaha team-mate Crutchlow, who has run the three while recovering from ankle fractures, had the other view. “Two in a row is tough enough. The good thing is if you have a bad race you feel you can put things right next weekend.” Stoner was no fan. “There are already too many races on the calendar,” he said. Most opposed was Rossi. “For me, is too much. Some years ago we spoke in the Safety Commission to stop three in a row, but this year Carmelo (Ezpeleta) says it was impossible.” It will happen again at the end of the season: Japan, Malaysia and Australia on the bounce. Somehow, said Crutchlow, that’s easier: “You fly from one hotel to the next. In Europe you go home, turn round, go away again ... there’s more travelling and driving.” Halfway through the first year of 1000cc MotoGP bikes, the balance of power seems to have swung back from Honda to Yamaha. There was little question last year that Honda held the high ground, if only by a couple of hundred feet. It’s closer this year, but looks right now to be the opposite way around. The two rival companies have been the backbone of GP racing since the 1980s. Interruptions by Suzuki and Ducati were nothing more than that; interruptions. The dialogue went on all the same. The main riders seem to agree. Yamaha’s Lorenzo: “We improved a little bit in aerodynamics to improve our speed. Mugello is good for us, because the last corner is very fast. But this year ’s engine is much better than last ... more acceleration. Honda’s Pedrosa: “It looks like this year the bikes are very similar in potential. It looks like Yamaha has improved in areas we were strong, like corner exit. We need to improve our strong points: speed and acceleration. Our bike is so nervous, hard to keep it calm.” Honda’s Stoner: “In certain situations the Yamaha is better. Our biggest disappointment Is that we can’t solve our chatter problems. I can’t attack the corner entry and it’s nervous under brakes.” But in spite of all the similarity, the bikes remain quite different animals. Dovizioso, now on Yamaha, has raced both. “They are completely different. With the Honda you have to be really perfect and try to use the best acceleration. The Yamaha is completely the opposite. I didn’t have to change my style, but the idea of how to ride: hard braking, fast entry, high speed in the middle of the corner. With the Honda you have to stop more, pick up and make acceleration as straight as you can.” There’s more than one way to skin a cat. MOTOGP >>> MUGELLO