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.HALF-TIME REPORT
With the MotoGP circus currently enjoying their summer break it's probably a good time to offer an appraisal of all the riders based on their seasons so far. For this, I'm putting friendships aside and simply offering an impartial view. Any criticisms I make are nothing personal. It's just how I see it.
Sadly Colin hasn't cut the mustard. Having struggled in MotoGP ever since he left superbikes, this year he's been well and truly outperformed by his much less experienced team mate. Although Colin's a good rider with lots of experience, he's reached his maximum and I don't see him doing any better than he already has. If he was going to break through, it would have happened long ago. He's probably at the point where it's time to retire, or go back to world superbikes.
I've really rated Melandri previously and I really thought his results would have been better on the Honda. They haven't been, and I'm now really doubting his ability. Unfortunately, I don't think he'll ever get anywhere near the type of race-winning form he was able to display when he rode a Honda a few years back. It's difficult to know what's rolling around inside his head, but to me it looks like he simply lacks the motivation to fight consistently for the whole year. Maybe he should consider a move to superbikes, too.
Marco was an outstanding talent in 250s and I think that adapting to the four-stroke machine this year has been a real challenge. However, he's showed spurts of brilliance in the last couple of races and I think you've got to give him a little bit longer - I'd say another season - to really adjust. I think he's got a bright future and a lot of potential, but he's going to have to keep his head down, keep focused, keep working on his style, and keep working on getting the best out of the equipment underneath him.
Randy De Puniet
I don't really rate Randy. I think he's had a reasonable 2010 so far, but he's got a unique way of always finding trouble. I think his style is very aggressive and more out of control than in control. I think his bikes have been reasonably good this year and he's managed some good results, but overall it looks like he's riding well above his ability level. Although he's got a big heart and clearly wants to be at the front, I don't think there's much future in MotoGP for him. Maybe he'd be good in superbikes as well.
Hector reminds me of Randy De Puniet. Some days he's hot - most days he's not. I know this is his first year in MotoGP, but I've got my doubts. His heart's in the right place and his head wants to get there, but his ability level is letting him down. He rides beyond this level all the time. I think he'll continue to have the occasional good ride, but generally I don't think he's got the ability to do much better. In the long-term he'll maybe make a good second-string rider, but I doubt he'll ever score higher than a fifth place.
Mika has been a great disappointment. From his record in 125s and 250s you have to say he's got a lot of ability and potential, but he's really struggled on the Ducati. Whether it's the weight or size or power of the bike, I don't know. Yes, the Ducati's a difficult proposition to master, but I still would have expected better results than what he's been able to achieve. Maybe he needs to look for a bike that's easier to ride to see if that's the problem. The current combination clearly isn't working.Alvaro Bautista
Alvaro's a young guy that I suspect has got a lot of talent but is hamstrung by the fact he's on a Suzuki. As such, it's difficult to tell just how much talent he's got. I'm not really sure how to rate him, to be honest. I wouldn't want to pass judgement until we see him on better equipment. He's probably got a lot of questions about his own ability to cut it in MotoGP, but he wouldn't be able to answer them honestly because he wouldn't know whether it's him or the machine letting him down. He needs to come back to a baseline, something that's a proven performer like a Yamaha or Honda, and go from there.Loris Capirossi
When I talk to his team they say Loris is very good at giving them direction with the bike. It's just a pity that the Suzuki factory doesn't seem to want to follow his advice. As far as actual racing goes, he's still very good on his day, but is certainly no winner. He's really past it as far as pushing really hard goes. At this stage, Loris is probably better off retiring and becoming a development rider rather than continuing with his racing career. It's time to give someone younger a go.* To be continued next week