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.THE WORST OF BOTH WORLDS
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced Valentino Rossi's decision to delay shoulder surgery until the end of 2010 was a huge mistake. Last year I said that with his season effectively over after Mugello, he should have walked away from the second half of the season and had the work done straight away. Had he done that, it would have enabled him to start 2011 fully recovered and, more importantly, fully fit.The reason he opted to continue had a lot to do with his desire to test the Ducati at Valencia in November. With that test painfully acquainting the nine-time
World Champion with the Desmosedici's major design faults, it looked like the call may have been the right one. After all, if it's detailed feedback and evaluation Ducati engineers were looking for, they certainly received it in spades.For Rossi, the sacrifice of delaying surgery appeared as though it would pay off in the form of a totally re-configured motorcycle for the start of 2011. That's why I'm baffled at the current situation the team find themselves in. The bike appears to be virtually the same as last year's. In fact, if you look at the times set in Qatar, you could argue that it's actually worse. To add insult to injury (or should that be injury to insult?), their star recruit is struggling with a shoulder that still looks to be far from its best. It's a complete disaster and I can see no significant benefit in Rossi having delayed his surgery to test the bike late last year. If he'd instead been working on his recovery and rehabilitation, at least he'd now be in the position to tackle the Ducati at full fitness - something that would probably enable him to be further up the time sheets. But that's the wisdom of hindsight I suppose - always a wonderful thing.
FEEDBACK FROM THE U.S.
I saw an interesting response to last week's Review by one of the readers of the U.S. website cyclenews.com. In a nutshell, the reader was taking me to task for last year criticizing Casey Stoner's inability to stay on the Ducati, while this year labelling him a genius for managing to achieve the results he did. I stand by both comments.A lot of Casey's previous problems have been caused by him not exercising enough patience and trying to ride on the limit for the whole race. With the approach having had a dramatic hit or miss effect, it was something I felt he needed to address. His amazing ability was never in question, and I believed he could have achieved more wins by moderating his aggressive approach.
Impressively, we saw signs that he might be making this adjustment in Qatar. The fact that Valentino Rossi is struggling so badly on the Ducati also highlights Casey's brilliance like never before. After all, if a rider as decorated and experienced as Rossi can't make it work, you know that the bike is a true basket case.While I'm at it, the cyclenews.com reader in question also wasn't impressed by my assessment of Ben Spies' ride in Qatar, saying that if he'd got a better start and hadn't been caught behind Hector Barbera and Rossi, then he may have finished third or fourth. This may well be true, but the fact is, he didn't.Ben, a great rider with a lot of potential, has often acknowledged that he needs to work on his approach to the opening laps and we saw this again last weekend. Racing isn't just about setting fast laps - it's also about being able to make the passes you need to make, when you need to make them. In this instance, Ben wasn't able to deliver, and it's this fact that surprised me.Anyway, I really want to say a huge thanks to all the Weekly Review's U.S. readers. I really look forward to putting each instalment together and it's great to know that you're interested in what I have to say from all the way over there. I hope you continue to enjoy it.