Wayne Gardner writes for the readers of cyclenews.com...NORMAL SERVICE RESUMED
The latest Spanish MotoGP was a classic master class from Casey Stoner and a massive step to reasserting himself in this year's World Championship. With his dominant Aragon performance, I think we can put to bed any fears he may have been suffering a relapse of his earlier health issues last time out. He was literally unstoppable in practice and continued that form into the race. In completely smashing the field, he also equalled the GP win total (31) of my old sparring partner Eddie Lawson. That's a pretty amazing achievement in itself. Yet again, poor old Dani was left wondering which way Casey went. And despite some unusual grip issues, Jorge put in a gutsy, tenacious effort to finish third. It's clear he and Yamaha have no answers to Casey and Honda, and I don't think it'll be long until the reigning champion is put out of his misery for 2011.
As a spectacle, however, the whole thing was a bit of a bore, especially considering the brilliant excitement of the earlier Moto2 race. Spies and Simoncelli failed to excite despite some promising form early on, and once again we were left with a sparse smattering of machines after crashes by Abraham, Dovizioso, Capirossi and Elias. The only real interest was watching Rossi start from pit lane and seeing how far up the field he could get himself. I'll talk more about all that in a moment. However, I reckon this whole rule about starting from pit lane with a 10-second penalty after exceeding the six engine allocation is a bit harsh. All it does is just take away from a race spectacle that is already struggling to entertain. Surely there must be another way.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
If it wasn't obvious before, it certainly is now. Valentino Rossi's decision to join Ducati at the end of last year was a brave but ultimately disastrous decision. As things stand, it's entirely probable that he'll never win another race. It's equally possible that his next step is an early retirement. The fact the team have made zero progress despite numerous major upgrades throughout 2011 is testament to the dire state they now find themselves in. You can bet there is a lot of screaming and table bashing going on in the Ducati boardroom at the moment. They have spent many millions of Euros signing Vale and developing new parts as the season has progressed. It's not only been extremely expensive, but severely embarrassing. Their results are as dismal as they were back at the start of the season.
Even their decision to finally throw some aluminium in the front of the bike at the weekend was a total failure. They are in massive trouble and I now think there is no hope for them. It's clear no one at the factory really has a clue how to fix the problems. How much longer can this go on? I suspect not very long at all. I think there's a strong possibility that the factory will simply cut its loses and walk away from MotoGP entirely, maybe as early as this year. What a disaster that would be for the sport at the moment. They may decide to go back to World Superbikes in an official capacity next year, possibly taking Rossi over to that series. Afterall, it's a championship they know they can win with far less risk and expense.