Former 500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner will be offering his GP insights on a regular basis to cyclenews.com readers and we're happy to have him. For more from the Wollongong Wonder, visit his website at www.waynegardnerapproved.com.au.WAY PAST MY BEDTIME
Great racing as usual from the World Superbike regulars on Sunday night. I sat up and watched all the action from Monza and may I say, it's bloody hard work watching the first race at 7.30 p.m. here in Australia and then having to stay awake for the second one, which comes on at around midnight. It's a killer. After years of the same kind of arrangement, I really think the series organisers have got to do something about running the two races closer together. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people lose interest after race one because of the long wait. Tightening things up could really improve the package as a whole. If there's one weakness with the SBK show, this is it. I know the teams probably wouldn't like to deal with a shorter turn-around, but surely there's a better way of presenting the action in a more audience-friendly way. Maybe having shorter races within a tighter timeframe might be the answer. I'm not entirely sure, but I reckon it's certainly food for thought.
PUNISHMENT DOESN'T FIT THE CRIME
The penalty handed out to Max Biaggi during race two was pretty ordinary stuff. Yes, he made a small error and ran up the slip road and effectively gained a second or so when he rejoined the track. But is this type of thing really deserving of a ride-through penalty? In my book, absolutely not. Max made a simple mistake. It's not like he was trying to cheat or get away with anything dishonest. I find the response of the series officials both severe and ridiculous. Why couldn't they have just let him finish the race and then knock off the second he gained from his final race time? The whole thing cost him certain victory and I think Max and his team have every right to be seriously unimpressed.
On the other side of things, huge congratulations to Eugene Laverty for stellar wins in both races. I hadn't really rated Eugene previously, but he seems to have finally made the big step up that he's been working towards for so long. He looked very impressive. So did the Yamahas. They are once again very fast in a straight line, and it's clear they've done a lot of hard work, both on their superbike and supersport packages.
Obviously, the weekend was less than fantastic for Carlos Checa. The Ducatis have always struggled around Monza. V-twins tend to do it a bit tough around high-speed circuits. While they might have a lot of punch off tight corners, they're just not as good as a strong four-cylinder when it comes to blasting down a long straight. Having older equipment may also be starting to catch up with Carlos, who also suffered engine problems in race two. I also suspect Carlos himself wasn't entirely geared for the weekend, but that's just a feeling.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
MotoGP heads to Le Mans this weekend and it should be a good one. For some reason, this is a track that I always struggled at in the past. It's quite small, with a lot of tight stop-start corners. However, the fast right before the chicane is a very difficult high-speed affair, and if you get it wrong then the whole lap turns into a mess. So, what's the secret to being fast?
Basically, you want a bike that stops well and drives strongly off the corners. This is good news for the factory Honda and Yamaha riders. I think both machines will be fairly evenly matched, with the Hondas to maybe just come out on top. If Casey is back on song, he will be hard to beat. But what I'd really like to see is a head-to-head battle featuring him and Pedrosa riding at their absolute best. I reckon there's a good chance we'll see it on Sunday and I can't wait. Depending on how things play out, this could be a race that really determines the pecking order within the Repsol team for 2011. I also expect the Moto2 race to be a corker and I'm really looking forward to it.
The bad news is, I'll have to tape it all and watch it when I get home. I'll be flying back from Phillip Island on Sunday evening as both Remy and Luca will have just raced there. It'll be Luca's first time at the circuit and Remy's second. It'll be a great chance to clock up some more experience and also fly the flag for our sponsors Honda, V Australia and the Phillip Island circuit itself.