Coming to you from the Qatar Airways flight out Kuala Lumpur on our way back from a very very wet weekend in Sepang for round six of the World Superbike Championship.
The decision to go in May instead of the start of the year or the end showed why they call it the wet season. But hey, why let common sense get in the way of television schedules or the fact that we need to be the guinea pigs for the MotoGP circus on the new asphalt and the modified corners.
The banking on many of the corners was changed to help with drainage when there is a downpour and while most of the turns were quite positive they made the final Turn off camber.
It was already a little bit dodgy and tight coming from your top speed in down to first or second and really hard on the brakes so to change it from flat to off camber seemed a strange choice but probably one made by an engineer sitting at a desk trying to achieve optimum drainage.
On a positive the new tarmac was great in the wet and really surprised everyone how much grip there was and from first run out we saw the bikes were way too soft and we could run much harder springs than a normal wet setting. In the dry as most tracks tend to do it wrecked the front tyres.
TV schedules in Europe meant that we basically had our Qualifying and race time moved back to mid afternoon which coincided with the daily wet season downpour around 1500 hours everyday. We basically sat around in the garage for a couple of hours then waited for it to rain before we went out.
Previous to that we had some bad luck at Imola with a small engine bolt that goes in the front of the engine to block off the standard oil pressure sensor switch that started weeping and we were black flagged on the third lap as they also brought out the red flag for a separate crash.
In the great wisdom of race direction they decided on their own that Randy ignored the black flag on purpose and therefore was not allowed to make the restart.
When the red flag came out and he realised his bike was smoking he did the slow down lap on the grass but as usual race direction are not interested in hearing the riders point of view so we were out even though we replaced the screw in three minutes and the bike was ready to go!
On the other side of the garage Sofuoglu won the race so it was kind of mixed feelings for the team manager when we should have had both riders on the top steps of the podium.
A few thoughts on the latest movements with the MotoGP riders and who will go where. The original talk was about the certainty of young Vinales joining Rossi on the Yamaha which seemed a great fit to bring him in for Rossi’s final two years to learn from the King and then become the man for the future at Yamaha.
Lately though the rumor mill has gone into over drive with Pedrosa likely to join Valentino on the Yamaha and how everybody would love to see Dani on the Yamaha for his riding style and how everyone says he would win if he had the best bike which now is considered to be the Yamaha.
Honestly though, I like Dani and especially the way he conducts himself, but hey having a factory Repsol Honda for 11 years seems like you have had plenty of good opportunities. Maybe the Honda hasn’t always been the best bike but you could say that at least conservatively seven or eight of those years the Honda was the best bike.
If he doesn’t take with the Championship he will be the longest rider ever on a factory that never won the Championship. In my opinion over at Yamaha they need to get a young guy on the bike to go forward after Lorenzo and Valentino. I think if common sense prevails then Vinales will join Rossi and Pedrosa will stay at Honda because Marquez likes having him there and he doesn’t rock the boat.
I think Dovizioso will be the man to stay on and partner Lorenzo on the Ducati because Ianonne doesn’t seem to be too popular at the moment and I don’t think he would be Lorenzo’s first choice. Dovi will work hard and get on with his job and be a good teammate.
The talk in Europe now is that Iannone will step into the vacant seat at Suzuki and maybe another Spanish kid from Moto2 will get the other Suzuki.
I’m happy my mate JR got himself signed up at KRT for another couple of years and has his future well and truly sorted, as he becomes the reference point at Kawasaki and the man to drive the factory team forward over the next three years.
Where that leaves Tom Sykes now I’m not sure. With Jonny taking the big piece of the pie I am not sure if Tom will want to take a salary cut to be Jonny’s teammate when the friction is already pretty high in the team.
In our team there is plenty of talk that Melandri will be coming back on a third official Kawasaki Superbike in San Carlo colours. I know our team would like to make the step up but unless we can get the official material and a big sponsor like San Carlo pays for it than it will be hard. Lets just say at the moment it looks about 70/30 to happen.
On a sadder note the roads have claimed another young rider at the North West 200. I didn’t know young Malachi Mitchell-Thomas but I saw him around plenty in the British Paddock and for sure he had a lot more life left to live. I am not going to get into the roads debate but every year it’s someone else and I keep asking myself why. RIP Malachi.
See you next time,