Estoril, Asia and beyond
It was kind of inevitable following the excitement of the 2006 MotoGP season where the championship went down to the very last race that 2007 might not live up to the same billing. Nobody, however, expected Casey Stoner to display such total dominance this year and stand on the brink of his first world title with five races still to go.
Without doubt the new tyre rules have played their part but the teams have also struggled to compete with the outstanding Ducati package. Honda failed to mount a defence of Nicky Hayden’s title and Yamaha have not been able to deliver Rossi the speed he needed to keep up with Casey.
It could all be decided on Sunday but the Ducati rider still needs Rossi to finish 15 points behind him and I’m not sure the season is over yet.
We’ll have all the crucial action as it happens, with qualifying on Saturday on BBCi and then all the build up to the MotoGP race from 2.30pm on Sunday on BBC TWO. In the programme this weekend we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the problems at Yamaha and catching up with John Hopkins who’s having his best ever season in MotoGP. And don’t forget you can follow the fortunes of the British riders in the 125cc and 250cc Championships which get us underway on BBCi from 10.45 in the morning.
Once the racing finishes on Sunday, the teams are heading off for three long-haul races in Asia and Australasia. We’ll have live coverage of these with a Sunday lunchtime re-run, just in case you’re not an early riser!
It all starts in Japan where Charlie Cox will be catching up with Casey Stoner – will he be the World Champion or standing on the brink of his first world title?
Then onto Philip Island where Australian Stoner is guaranteed a hero’s welcome at his home track and the greats of Aussie racing will be delivering their verdict on Casey’s stunning first season with Ducati. Steve Parrish will be going the extra mile and then some, joining Freddie Sheene for the ‘Sheene Run’, which last year saw more than 750 bikers ride more than 250km to the track in aid of charity, and Suzuki will be revealing something rather special!
The final part of the long-haul trilogy is in Malaysia where we’ll be catching up with 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden and hearing from Jorge Lorenzo, currently leading the 250cc Championship, and the man who will be Rossi’s team-mate next year. Many are expecting sparks to fly in that garage in 2008!
So will Casey be World Champion or not by Sunday night? My money is on the championship going to the next round but MotoGP has a habit of throwing up surprises when you least expect it!