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GP Week : Issue 177a
T here were three major themes to 2012. One was the racing; another the future. The third deeply personal. All ran through trouble and tension. And all, you might say, came to a satisfactory conclusion, at least for some of the participants. Racing thrives on trouble and tension. Especially tension. It came somewhat fortuitously to the MotoGP class: The mood had changed after the summer break, when Casey Stoner got hurt. A three-way battle turned into a two-man show: Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. On past records, it was a foregone conclusion. Lorenzo would win. But Dani was different this time, more than doubling his previous win average to take seven at the end (one more than Jorge), in a remorseless claw-back effort that came within one race of success. The future? Rules clipping the factory wings had been threatened for more than a year. Then came the seismic shift in the balance of power. Bridgepoint, the private equity firm that owned both MotoGP and the rival Superbikes, combined both under management of Dorna. In this new world came a compromise (admittedly provisional) that promised relief from the threat of a factory-free grand prix future. The personal matter involved Casey Stoner, and at least one love affair. It had been almost lifelong, and was with grand prix racing as the pinnacle of motorcycle sport. He was at the apex, at the height of his powers, and turned only 27 in October. What could possibly go wrong? Except that he’d decided he’d had enough. Dumbed-down racing bikes, control tyres, CRT bikes and worse to come were compounded by hyped-up commercialisation. Increased sponsor duties took the place of riding the bikes, with testing opportunities radically reduced. “It’s not the sport I fell in love with,” he said, before walking away with his wife and new baby, promising that he’d be doing plenty of fishing. Ever since his announcement at round four in France, the races were highlighted by the knowledge that it was the last time we would see this massive talent doing what only he could do on a MotoGP bike. 45 GPWEEK.com // 45 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> FEATURE