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GP Week : Issue 164
“It’s as though someone’s got a voodoo doll of me somewhere.” So said Ben Spies, earlier in the year, after yet another misfortune (a damaged visor at Le Mans) had spoiled another race in a dismal second factory-bike season. What happened to the hapless former Superbike and AMA champion at Laguna went far beyond misfortune. In an accident unheard of in modern MotoGP, there was a catastrophic failure of something important on his motorcycle, and his rear suspension collapsed mid-corner. It happened halfway through the Corkscrew, at relatively low speed. Even so he was lucky not to get tangled with his bike as it folded under him. The consequences at a faster corner hardly bear thinking about –though they will be exercising the minds in a shocked and red-faced Yamaha team. Immediately after the race Spies did his dutiful best to exonerate Yamaha. “It’s nobody’s fault – just more bad luck,” he said. But he added: “I’m pretty upset about it. In this type of racing and with this much money in the bikes, something like that shouldn’t happen.” Certainly shouldn’t. And it’s the second time this season the American has suffered a chassis breakage. At Qatar he had a nightmare race because (later investigation revealed) of an undetected crack in the carbon-fibre seat sub-frame. That had been damaged in a practice crash. Was this for the same reason – Ben had fallen hard the day before? Investigation was under way as we went to press. Yamaha need to find a reason, to ensure that it doesn’t happen again – other wise how can any of their riders feel comfortable? After all, if such a catastrophic failure happened to an aircraft, all of its type would be grounded immediately. CAN ANYONE STOP JORGE? SPIES: THE VOODOO DOLL TURNS NASTY Eight races remaining means there are still 200 points on the table for the winner; enough to make 40 points difference over a perennial second-placer. Lorenzo leaves Laguna Seca for the summer break with an advantage of 23 over Pedrosa and 32 over Stoner. Either could still beat him, if they were to win every remaining race and Lorenzo come second. Racing is not like that. Anything can happen: one non-finish would put Jorge in jeopardy. But if there are lessons to be drawn from recent history, the full ten years of the MotoGP four-strokes and 16 or more races a year, the Spaniard is already well on the way to a second title. In that time span, not once has the title leader after ten races not gone on to take the title. Almost every time, with two exceptions, the person lying second has finished second. And every time but one the points margin has grown bigger between round ten and the end of the season. The exception was 2006: after the German GP Nicky Hayden had an advantage over Yamaha-mounted Rossi of 25 points. The Honda rider would go on to win the title by just five points, the most slender margin since Wayne Rainey beat Mick Doohan by four points in 1992. Mostly, the winning margins have been a great deal higher; the record coming in 2005, when Rossi defeated Marco Melandri by 147 points. Lorenzo came close, with a 138-point win over Pedrosa in 2010. There’s plenty of racing left in it, and it’s still a three-way battle. But history is on Lorenzo’s side. 39 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> LAGUNA SECA