The Circuit de Catalunya provided a challenge for the best motorcycle racers in the world last weekend. Hit the jump for our take on the 6th round of the 2013 MotoGP season and a little pontificating about the current state of MotoGP.
If you’re a fan of F1 then you might recall that the Circuit de Catalunya created quite a number of tire issues for the teams and, in some minds, the resulting race was the worst of the 2013 season. MotoGP, ostensibly the F1 of motorcyling, had similar tire issues and to some degree the racing was probably not as exciting as it could have been.
The scorching heat caused trouble for a number of riders. Between the MotoGP and CRT bikes there were 8 DNFs, nearly all of which were the result of a low side at the tricky turn 10 (aka La Caixa). The high track temperatures meant that everyone was riding on eggshells with the fastest race lap being nearly two seconds slower than Pedrosa’s record setting pole lap.
Many of MotoGP’s current issues are the result of the current regulations. Like F1, and most top level motorsports, MotoGP has had a tough last few years. With less money available from sponsors and manufacturers, teams have struggled to make ends meet and as a result Dorna, the company that manages MotoGP, has attempted to create regulations that focus on reducing costs.
Probably the biggest cost cutting measure was the introduction of CRT machines. Unlike the factory bikes, the CRT bikes have production based engines and custom built frames. With twice the engine allocation, 12 instead of 6, and three more liters of fuel than the factory machines the CRT bikes are supposed to be a way to fill out the field and provide a way for a small team to be competitive on a budget.
Whether the CRT bikes are accomplishing their goal is debatable. The fastest CRT qualifier at MotoGP Catalunya, Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia power ART, was almost exactly 2 seconds slower than pole position and most of the CRT field was between one and four seconds slower than that. To put this in perspective, the entire 20 car Formula 1 field was covered by just under 4.5 seconds at the same track. MotoGP, when you include the CRT bikes, has over a 7 second gap from first to last.
Dorna is taking steps to close the gap between the factory and CRT bikes. Taking a page from F1, they are implementing a spec ECU for next year as well as reducing the fuel allowance for the factory bikes during the 2014 season. Personally, I’d like to see them get rid of traction control as well, something that should be easier with a standardized ECU.
Regardless of the trials and tribulations of the current MotoGP regulations, there were some impressive performances at MotoGP Catalunya.
Rossi continued to show that he has flashes of brilliance by being quickest in Friday practice and finishing 4th in the race. Whether he has the pace to win a race this season remains to be seen but the fact that he is enjoying the season can’t be denied.
Cal Crutchlow put his Tech 3 Yamaha into second place during Saturday qualifying only to low side the bike at La Caixa late in the race.
Fans of the Texas Tornado, Colin Edwards, were elated to see him dicing with Aleix Esparagaro and both riders finished in the top ten. It was the best ride that we’ve seen from Edwards in a long time.
The unsurprising part of the weekend was the complete domination by the three Spanish aliens who are currently the cream of the MotoGP crop. Lorenzo, Pedrosa, and Marquez simply cleared off at the start of the race and ran nose to tail for pretty much the whole race. Granted, the lack of passing is probably a little yawn inducing but the superb speed and consistency of the three men cannot be denied.
In the closing laps it looked like Marquez would make a move on Pedrosa but both men were trying hard. Marquez simply wasn’t close enough to get the job done, though one wonders if he would have made a go if we weren’t chasing his team mate.
What about Lorenzo? Jorge is really starting to show that he might be the class of the field. While Pedrosa is having his best year ever Lorenzo is showing that he is very much in the fight, especially since it is becoming more apparent that the Yamaha is probably at a disadvantage to the Honda in a number of areas.
Speaking of a disadvantage; each of the factory and satellite Yamahas have already run through 4 of their allocated 6 engines for the season. This is very bad news since there are 12 more races and the Hondas are still on their second engines. It would be a real shame if the championship is determined by engine availability but that’s the way the crankcase crumbles I suppose.
For the official results checkout the fancy MotoGP site: