Former 500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner will be offering his GP insights and opinions on a regular basis to cyclenews.com readers and we’re happy to have him. For even more from the Wollongong Wonder, visit his website at www.waynegardnerapproved.com.au.DUTCH DISAPPOINTMENT
Normally one of the highlights of the GP calendar, I noticed something very different about this year’s Dutch TT. Obviously, the track is nothing like it used to be when I raced there in the mid-80s. Thanks to considerable modifications over the years, it’s become a pale, soulless version of its former self. But with this having been the case for quite a while now, my impressions from the weekend are based on much more than that. For starters, there was the crowd. I remember the days when 200,000 spectators packed into the circuit on race day alone. On the weekend there was less than 100,000. The aura and prestige of the event also seems to have deteriorated. The Dutch TT was always one of those races that you looked forward to, and to win it was something really, really special. Now it just seems like another race.Then there was the contest itself – a drawn-out affair that was a far cry from the nose-to-tail action you’d normally expect from a traditional Dutch TT. In saying all that, you can’t escape the fact that Lorenzo was brilliant. He’s really come into his own and is a step above everyone else. He’s realized he can do it and that he doesn’t have to live in Rossi’s shadow anymore. Yet again, Pedrosa was good, but not good enough, while over at Ducati, I noticed that Casey Stoner was struggling to stay with the leaders, having to use a lot more lean angle compared to the others. To me, that again backs up what I’ve said previously – that there’s a basic geometry and engine placement issue with that bike. Despite what I keep reading in magazines, it’s not just about the front forks.
RING THE ALARM BELLS
MotoGP is in real trouble. At last weekend’s Dutch TT there were just 15 bikes on the grid. Two of those were ridden by over-the-hill test riders that no one could care less about watching, while the two dismal Suzukis did little more than make up the low numbers at the back of the grid. If Suzuki were to follow Kawasaki out the back door – surely a strong possibility considering their appalling results – then next year’s grid would be reduced even further. In fact, there would be more points available than there would be riders to claim them.Alarmingly, I have heard that Dorna is having to fund some of the teams to keep them there. What a disaster. The 800cc formula itself is also delivering the most boring races of all the GP classes. Thanks to Dorna’s disastrous regulation changes over the past few years, MotoGP bikes have become harder to ride and too expensive for manufacturers and teams to develop and run. Up until about a month ago the whole show had been glued together by the Rossi phenomenon, which distracted everyone from the problem. Now there’s no escaping it.Emergency action is required to prevent MotoGP becoming a thing of the past. I’ve heard some calling for the 2012 regulation changes to be brought forward for next year, but could the factories be ready in time? It’s doubtful. There’s talk of even allowing hybrid bikes on the grid as an interim solution for 2011, but even that will prove very difficult with the short lead time remaining until the start of next season. Short-term, I think the only thing that can save MotoGP is if Rossi comes back and rides for Ducati.For the rest of Wayne’s commentary from the Dutch Grand Prix, visit www.waynegardnerapproved.com.au.