Can Rossi Czech Stoner's progess?
After an all too brief summer break, the MotoGP circus is back on the road and heading for the Czech Republic. The team have scattered around the world and will be re-grouping at Heathrow early on Thursday morning.
Since I last wrote we have had the news that James Toseland has signed for Tech 3 Yamaha next season. It’ll be fantastic to have a British rider back on the grid and the bike should be much more competitive next year. We’ll be hearing from James and catching up with his new team boss Herve Poncharal at Brno this weekend.
Following on from James’ fantastic double win at Brands I have had a number of e-mails asking why we didn’t cover it. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, we don’t have the airtime or the budget to do both MotoGP and WSB and had to make a choice. We decided to go with MotoGP as the premier class of bike racing and James’ move up only goes to support that. James’ double win was, however, covered by 5-Live, News 24 and the sport website. The sport coverage within the network news bulletins at 6pm and 10pm was shortened by the coverage of the foot and mouth outbreak, leaving insufficient time to cover the story.
So, seven races left and whilst Casey Stoner has a strong grip on the Championship, 44 points clear of the rest of the field, we all know from last year that anything is possible and you can never write off Valentino Rossi. In fact Nicky Hayden’s lead was 51 points over ‘The Doctor’ at this point last year, though it’s hard to see Stoner having such a difficult second-half of the season as Hayden had last year. Casey is so self assured that it’s easy to forget that he is only 21 and he and the Ducati really seemed to have clicked.
Three European races are next up, including the new round at Misano. It’s a great place – the team have been there before for World Superbikes. We stay on the Rimini coast and it’s about a 10 minute drive inland to the track which can be very hot and humid. This will be Valentino’s home round as he comes from Tavullia which is about 15km from the circuit. His fan club are planning to walk from there to the track and our intrepid reporter Matt Roberts is hoping to join them. New tracks are always interesting as the teams all start practice on Friday with no data and we get to see who can adapt the quickest to the new conditions.
Back in Europe we’ll be doing Qualifying and MotoGP Extra on BBCi alongside our full race build-up whilst we we’ll be continuing our coverage of the 125 and 250 races on BBCi for the rest of the season giving you the chance to catch up with the other British riders competing in the World Championships.
Then it’s off to Asia and Australia for three more races before heading back to Europe for the final showdown in Valencia. If Casey continues his current run of results, there is a strong possibility that he could head to Philip Island and win the title on home soil which would be amazing. The Australian GP has always been one of my favourite rounds, it’s a stunning track perched on the edge of the cliffs with breathtaking views. It’s a long way to go but always worth the trip.
I don’t think anyone, at the start of the season, would have predicted that Casey would have such a convincing lead at this point in the Championship - I hope that the rest of the season continues to throw up a few suprises too.