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.GERMAN EFFICIENCY
Sunday’s German MotoGP was the best race we’ve seen all year. Sachsenring, a fairly tight track compared to most other GP circuits and a place that really suits a rider who’s keen for a scrap, once again proved itself capable of producing some great racing. Not surprisingly, the big drawcard was the return of Valentino Rossi. Picking that particular track to make his comeback on was a tall challenge, but he made it look like he’d never been away. It was fantastic to watch him battle it out with Casey and his close fourth place was a very impressive achievement just six-weeks after breaking his leg.Speaking of impressive, you also can’t go past Dani Pedrosa. That’s the best I’ve ever seen him ride. He normally doesn’t fight as hard for a win, but this time he showed real commitment. He sat and watched Lorenzo, studied his strengths and weaknesses, and made his move and pulled away. His corner speed was phenomenal. So what’s happened? Has a light suddenly gone on in his head? Has he suddenly realised how to win on the days where he doesn’t make a clean break from the start? Maybe. What’s more likely is that Honda’s signing of Stoner has fired everybody up. On top of that, Honda also looks to have finally got the bike working pretty welI. It certainly has two key strengths at the moment – acceleration and top speed.Whatever the reasons for his great showing, I hope Dani can keep it up. And don’t rule him out for the championship. If he and Honda can continue that form, you just never know. Anything can happen. Look at what happened in practice. Lorenzo’s bike blew up, dumped oil all over the road and a couple of riders fell off. That could easily have happened the other way around and it could have been Lorenzo on the ground injured. It’s never over until it’s over.
SIX AND OUT
The new MotoGP six-engine rule might have been introduced to reduce costs, but it’s clear it’s having a detrimental effect on safety and the overall spectacle of the show. It certainly doesn’t look to be doing much for company bottom lines. You blow an engine – like Lorenzo did so spectacularly on Saturday – and you’re left with no other option but to throw it in the bin. That’s probably $200,000 down the drain. On the other hand, refreshing an existing engine by replacing bearings and pistons and things like that – just like we did in the good old days – might cost $50,000. You do the math. It seems like a real false economy.Then there’s the obvious risk to rider safety when engines are being operated so close to their use-by date. The crash involving Spies and de Puniet – caused by Lorenzo’s engine exploding and spewing oil all over the road – could have been so much worse. Don’t be surprised if a similar situation occurs again as the year wears on. It’s a real concern and I don’t think this rule is a good move – not by a long shot. On the other hand, with all the teams’ 2010 campaign plans geared around it, changing or even repealing it right now might prove too problematic.