Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Weekend wrap-up

To be honest, I haven't gotten hold of the MotorsTV coverage of the Le Mans Series race from the Nurburgring, so can't yet comment on that (although I heard it was a cracker). I just got the BTCC race from Croft as well as the British Superbikes from Knockhill, so hopefully will get a chance to watch them later today.

What I DID see was MotoGP from the Sachsenring, and it was spectacular. Many pundits are saying that it was one of Valentino Rossi's finest rides, but to me it seemed no different to any of the other methodical, workmanlike victories he's secured in the past. The main thing that separates this one would be simply that he's coming from a position of weakness at the moment. Having said that, it appears as though his crew chief Jeremy Burgess once again solved some setup problems at the last minute, and that the Yamaha is finally coming good (after returning to the 2005 frame).

Behind Rossi, Marco Melandri once again showed another of his sporadic flashes of brilliance. If he could get some consistency together he'd certainly be much closer to the top of the championship, if not on it. There's no reason to believe he's any less talented than the other three guys he was fighting with in Germany. Meanwhile, Dani Pedrosa again showed that he's stupidly quick but lacks the chutzpah and experience when it counts. Dani does well when everything is working for him, but I've yet to see him ride around problems, and he invariably loses out in scrappy dogfights. That will undoubtedly change as time goes by and he'll certainly grab the title in the next two or three years.

Finally, Nicky Hayden did what he needed to do, as usual, but is finding himself increasingly backed into a corner whereby he has to ride for points, not wins. With a one race cushion he can just about afford to do that, but one mechanical DNF, a string of victories by Rossi, Pedrosa or Melandri or even another Donington-style poor weekend will put him back in the pack, and he'll have no choice but to start taking risks. I suspect Nicky doesn't like doing that, so the next few races will be a real test of his fortitude.

I'll see for myself on Friday when I head to Laguna Seca to watch these guys up close.

Over in American Le Mans, lots of things happened but once again CBS's coverage was so bad I struggled to keep up with what was going on. The jerky, stop-start, commercial-ridden, special-features-heavy broadcast was pretty much unwatchable, so I did just that... switched it off. This was perhaps the first time I've ever stopped watching a race on TV because the coverage was so staggeringly awful. Apparently it was a close one with the Penske Porsches closing down the leading Audi in the last hour, whilst the Aston Martins finally pulled a 1-2 over the heavily-handicapped Corvettes. It must be said that I'm not a Corvette fan, after their unforgivable parking of the cars with a huge lead during the 2001 Le Mans 24 Hours, but I do feel that they've achieved their success lately by simply being better. To handicap them until they're no longer the best seems a tad unfair.

Finally, Formula 1 in France.... I generally don't cover F1, especially because there's so many good F1 blogs out there (linky to the right ---->) so I'm just going to say that it's nice to see Schumacher working his way back into the championship. It would be great to see it go down to the final race. I think that would be good for Formula 1, a sport that is generally one of the more dull forms of racing.

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