Former 500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner is now offering his Grand Prix 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.
BACK ON TRACK
I wasn’t at all surprised by the fact that Valentino Rossi was able to get on a Sperbike and complete 26 laps of Misano just four weeks after breaking his leg. From a medical point of view, it’s certainly not out of the ordinary in this day and age. What I was surprised about was his motivation. His desire to return so soon indicates an insatiable passion for the sport. With his world title chances virtually non-existent, there would have been a good case for taking his time and getting back to 100 percent fitness. That’s not the way he’s decided to go.The fact he’s scheduled a second Superbike test for Brno on Monday indicates the leg must be pretty good and that he’s seriously considering making his GP comeback at Sachsenring this weekend. While that place is tight and twisty, if he thinks the leg is up to it there’ll be no dramas. Believe me, you don’t lose your track speed in four weeks. It’ll just be a matter of having the confidence that his body is up to it. If he does race, I expect him to run a top three or four place without a problem.
STAYING OR GOING?
Does the fact that Yamaha were only too happy to quickly organize a YZF-R1 Superbike for Rossi’s Misano test indicate anything regarding Vale’s destination for next year? Personally, I don’t think we can read anything into it. Yamaha possibly still don’t know whether he’s staying or going, so they’re obviously tyring to do anything they can to keep him happy. The fact they scheduled last week’s shakedown clearly indicates they really want to keep him. Despite Lorenzo’s success they haven’t forgotten that Vale’s the guy who developed the M1 into a race-winner. Yamaha isn’t silly. They know the opportunity is there for him to leave and they’ll do anything to support his needs at this point in time. For all that, my bet is on Rossi leaving Yamaha and going red.BACK TO WHERE IT ALL STARTED
Casey’s decision to sign for Honda at a relatively early point in the season indicates to me that he hasn’t been happy at Ducati for some time. While the general consensus is that the deal was sealed at the second round in Jerez, I do doubt it was done quite that early.However, I think Honda had been talking to him for some time and the disappointment of the first few races may have fuelled his decision. While the Ducati has definitely lost its competitive edge compared to the other bikes, there was undoubtedly also an internal issue at play. Something has happened inside that team and the happy honeymoon was over some time ago – a situation probably not helped by Ducati’s efforts to sign Lorenzo during Casey’s illness last year.Regardless, I see Stoner’s move back to Honda as largely positive. There’s no doubt that the RC212V is the fastest bike in a straight line. It also has fantastic acceleration. What it doesn’t have at the moment is a great chassis. This is where Stoner might come undone. He’s a superior rider to Pedrosa and Dovizioso and will beat them both, but I doubt he’s got the development skills to move the bike forward. I think we saw that at Ducati. Having said that, it also depends on who his engineer is. That will be a very important factor. Whatever he says when he takes his helmet off has got to be relayed correctly to the Japanese. That relationship will be crucial to their chances of success. I don’t think that just having Casey on his own will be the answer to Honda’s prayers. I also don’t think it’s the answer to Casey’s prayers, either.