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12 for ’12: Twelve reasons to look forward to MotoGP in 2012

April 6, 2012

The winter is over (well, nearly…), the testing done – it’s time to take off those tyre-warmers folks… MotoGP is back. With the 2012 season about to begin in Qatar this weekend, here are our twelve reasons to look forward to the new campaign…

1. Bigger bikes = better racing…

That’s the theory anyway. 1000cc bikes return to the top class, and hopefully so too will – thankfully! – overtaking and exciting racing. Gone will be the processional one-line-through-a-corner races of the 800cc era, with bigger bikes enabling riders to run deeper under braking (whilst overtaking) and square off the corner before accelerating again. Fingers crossed anyways!

2. Shorter-lasting tyres…

The rider that doesn’t have problems with the tyres at the end of the race will have a strong season. – Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo (via motorcyclenews.com)

The new specification tyres have been designed to warm-up faster and thus reduce the potential for early-on cold tyre high-sides. Fair play. However, a consequence of this is that the performance level of the tyre drops off earlier than before, which means those that push earlier will have less performance left later on, leaving them vulnerable to the more patient riders. In theory, we should get more overtaking spread throughout the race, and also the potential for some dramatic position gains (or, indeed, losses) over the final few laps…

3. Claiming Rule Teams (CRTs)…

Much maligned perhaps, but regardless of their pace (or lack of) a bigger field is good for the sport, and seeing as many believe CRT represents the future of the sport it is essentially a stepping-stone change that we will have to grin and bear in its formative stages. However, given the sparsely-populated grids of recent seasons, more bikes on the grid is certainly a good thing for the sport and its fans, even if they are somewhat uncompetitive to begin with. Watching Randy de Puniet try and hunt down a few prototypes on his ‘CRT’ Aprilia should be good fun too…

4. Casey Stoner and his crazy lean angles…

He uses more track, more kerb, more lean angle than anyone else out there at the moment. As the saying goes, he rides it like he stole it.

– BBC commentator Steve Parrish (via bbc.co.uk)

He might bore the pants off most fans with his uneventful (albeit professional) persona off the bike, but few can make the bike and track come alive like the Australian [also see reason #7]. He rides lean angles others can barely comprehend and even though he is far from the most popular rider out there, he is certainly one of the best. And even Rossi’s most devoted fans are probably beginning to admit as much…

5. Yamaha is stronger…

… and this means a challenge for Stoner. Casey dominated last season on his Honda, with the factory Yamaha riders struggling to consistently challenge the Australian. This time round, pre-season testing suggests Yamaha are closer to the pace of the Hondas (in the words of the BBC’s Azi Farni: ‘Yamaha have stepped up for the 1,000s’), meaning Jorge Lorenzo [r] and Ben Spies should have a good chance of challenging and beating Stoner and Dani Pedrosa on a more regular basis. This should lead to a tighter and more exciting Championship too – Casey hopefully won’t be streaking off into the title-winning distance this time around…

6. The Rossi-Ducati dilemma…

Simply, can the affable Italian and his crew chief Jerry Burgess get the Ducati working? It’s a tall order – a 1.440s gap to the front in first practice in Qatar tells us that much – but what a sight it would be for the Italian rider to finally win on the Italian bike. At Mugello too? It might be too much to ask, but the potential for it at least is something to look forward to…

7. BBC go HD…

We are excited for this mostly for the moody slow-mos of Casey fully cranked over on his Honda! Check out the video below if you don’t believe us. Great news that the BBC will be fully in HD for 2012’s races – it really makes a difference to the armchair fans’ viewing experience!

8. Cal Crutchlow’s chance to shine…

After a topsy-turvy rookie season last time out, 2012 is a big year for Cal – especially with either he or his teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, certain to be dropped by Tech 3 for next season. Cal, however, looks well-placed to excel. The larger 1000cc bikes are better suited to his riding style, and pre-season indicates that he could regularly be challenging for top-five finishes this campaign. Hopefully, for British fans certainly, that first podium might follow too…

I have already shown in testing that the 1000cc bike suits my style better and I am able to set some very competitive lap times. The level of competition though is once again unbelievably high, but if I can be close to the factory bikes and be top independent team rider, I will be very happy.

– Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow (via bbc.co.uk)

9. Smith, Reading and Rea in Moto2…

This could be an exciting season for the young Brits in the Moto2 class – Bradley Smith already has his MotoGP contract for 2013 signed and has set a target of a top three finish as a “minimum” for this year’s Championship; he’ll be wanting to go out with at least a few wins under his belt, so fingers crossed for him. Scott Redding has challenged for podiums (and occasional wins) over the last two seasons in this class, so – bike-permitting – he should do the same again. With one-eye on trying to secure a MotoGP contract, we are hoping for big things from young Scott. Meanwhile, 22-year-old Gino Rea joins from the World Supersport Championship and will be hoping to make his mark in his debut season. Plenty to keep British fans interested it would seem…

10. Danny Kent – Moto3 title challenger?

Whisper those words quietly, but there is a good chance Danny might be in with a shout of the title this year. Maverick Viñales will be most peoples’ favourite for the Moto3 crown, but 18-year-old Danny went well in pre-season testing and has a competitive KTM under him… you just never know! The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider clocked the second-fastest time in first practice for Qatar too – it certainly bodes well…

11. Silverstone…

The fastest bikes in the world (which just got faster) go to one of the fastest tracks in the world… and it’s relatively accessible for everyone in Britain. General admission full-weekend tickets are around £83… get yourself over to the Northamptonshire circuit and experience them first hand. Last year’s race was packed with thrills and spills, and with a number of competitive Brits across all three classes it should be a weekend to remember. We’ve just got to hope Cal makes it to the race this time!…

12. Remembering Marco…

Having tragically lost one of the sport’s most promising young talents in Malaysia last season, there are bound to be numerous tributes to the popular Italian as the MotoGP circus travels the globe. Expect Ciao Marco t-shirts and those crazy SuperSic afro-wigs aplenty as fans remember and celebrate the Italian rider and all that is good about the sport…

So, there we go folks. The 2012 season is upon us after a five month break, and boy are we delighted it is back!…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2012 12:08 am

    I have to agree the 2012 season is indeed more entertaining to watch than the last couple of years. I still believe a lot more has to be done in order to still close the gap to all the riders. Is CRT the answer? I don’t think so. Limiting electronics is the way to go.

    • August 21, 2012 11:32 am

      Completely agree that limiting the electronics would help bring back better racing – traction control has not been missed since its removal from F1 afterall. CRT seems very much a work in progress – currently far from the finished article and thus, in its current form, certainly not the answer. But with a few tweaks it might get there. I remain sceptical though…

  2. August 26, 2012 4:32 pm

    Wow. Nice review. Bigger bike = better racing = bigger risks 🙂

  3. October 10, 2012 9:58 am

    2012 season is the best season 🙂

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