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.auLORENZOLAND OF THE FREE
As an overall event, I reckon the U.S. MotoGP was pretty exciting. And although I’ve never had a great history at Laguna Seca (there was that small matter of a broken leg back in 1989), I actually wished I was there.Clearly, the class act of the weekend was Jorge Lorenzo. The guy is just going from strength to strength. On Sunday he was very fast, never got out of shape and never looked like crashing. If he can keep this type of form up, I can’t see him being beaten for race wins at all this year. Dani Pedrosa also looked amazingly fast – right up until the point where he lost the front and ended up in the dirt. He just succumbed to the deliberate pressure of Lorenzo, tried too hard and crashed. He’s got a history of making mistakes, and this latest one has cost himself and Honda any chance of winning the championship this year. Though may I say, a lot of the Honda guys, especially Marco Simoncelli, were also having a lot of trouble with the front end, which tells me that bike must be suffering a certain degree of weight imbalance problems.I should also make special mention of Valentino Rossi. For him to be back on the podium in just his second race back from injury is an outstanding result. Expect him to be an even stronger force next time out at Brno. Now, to the biggest disappointments of the weekend. Step forward Spies, Hayden and Edwards. After all the hype, I expected a much bigger showing, especially considering it was their home race and that they’ve all done countless laps of the place. Spies’ performance, while okay, clearly demonstrated that he still doesn’t have nearly enough experience on a MotoGP bike. He still lacks the ability to micro-manage all the different scenarios that crop up from corner to corner. I think he’ll be a bit surprised by how far back he was. But he will improve in time. How much and how quickly? I’m not exactly sure. However, even if he’s on a works bike next year, I don’t expect him to be a championship-winner.Nicky Hayden, however, can’t blame a lack of experience for his Laguna effort, which was pretty poor considering Casey Stoner was able to achieve a great second place on the same bike. Colin Edwards also struggled badly.
THE JERRY FACTOR
There’s been a lot of speculation recently about the future career prospects of Jerry Burgess if, as everyone now expects, Valentino Rossi goes to Ducati. Interestingly, there’s one school of thought that says Vale will be going it alone. Personally, I’ll be very surprised if this is the case. Jerry likes to stick with his riders. He’s said to me in the past that he’ll stay with Valentino and then retire when Valentino does. If I listen to that, then Jerry Burgess will definitely go to Ducati. On top of that, I think Valentino needs him. It’s no secret that Ducati have some inherent issues with their chassis. I think that if Vale goes to Ducati and takes Jerry, he’ll solve a lot of problems very quickly. With the short space between the end of the year and the start of next season, that would be the ideal way to guarantee a strong bike for 2011.Jerry’s talent is that he doesn’t go too far from what works. He listens to the rider but he doesn’t make radical changes. He’s an ex-rider himself, and that’s a huge plus. When a rider, be it myself, Mick Doohan or Vale, explains what’s happening with a bike, he can understand it completely. I reckon that’s the secret to why he’s better than everybody else. He can relate to the problems. He can then either make suggestions to fix them, or talk with the engineers, evaluate their proposed solutions, and then decide on a course of action. As a person he’s also very calm and collected. He doesn’t get caught up in the emotional side of it and just keeps things very practical. He keeps things as simple as he can. It’s a system that’s helped secure many world championships.With all that in mind, what will happen if the rumors are true and Vale does end up making the leap without Jerry? Put simply, the process of improving the red bike will take longer. I think Valentino will still be able to achieve success and develop the machine into a regular winner again, but it will take longer for him to modify Ducati’s ways.