Wayne’s World 25: Wayne Gardner Writes

| September 20, 2010

<p>Former 500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner is now offering his Grand Prix    insights and opinions on a regular basis to www.cyclenews.com readers and    we’re happy to have him. For even more from the Wollongong Wonder,   visit  his website at <a href=”http://www.waynegardnerapproved.com.au” target=”_blank”>www.waynegardnerapproved.com.au</a></p>
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This was my ninth time at the event and I never tire of making the journey from Australia. I’ve got great memories of racing in the UK from my Honda Britain days as well as my Grand Prix career, so it’s always great to put on a show for the fans who once supported me so strongly. As anyone who has been to Goodwood will tell you, it’s a pretty special event, like going back in time to the 1940s and 50s. As well as all the vintage cars, bikes and planes on show, there are 120,000 spectators, all dressed in period clothing. You don’t see anything modern or new. It’s just amazing, and an honour and privilege to be invited. As far as my actual race weekend went, things could have gone smoother. While I’ve had a pretty strong history of success here in the past, it wasn’t to be this time around. It all went a bit pear-shaped on Saturday, when the pre-1954 BSA Gold Star I was racing with John Pemberton expired during qualifying, leaving us sitting on the sidelines for the actual race. Very disappointing. Thankfully, Lord March wanted me back out on the track, so I was allowed to race the next day on a 1962 G50 Matchless. My teammate started the race and pitted after five laps in sixth place, leaving me to go out and catch the leader – none other than Jeremy McWilliams – and battle with him for the win. We had a great dice and I managed to get the better of him and take the chequered flag. It was really exciting and great fun. I can’t wait to come back again next year.
What a great result by Casey – virtually a flag-to-flag victory that reminded everyone that he’s still one of the fastest riders out there. With the determined challenge of Dani Pedrosa summarily dispatched, it really was a case of Honda’s future star beating their current one. The result will give a few people something to think about, particularly Dani, who’s just been handed another reminder of how tough it will be to retain his number one status in the Repsol team next year. As for Valentino, if he was unsure about the Ducati’s current potential to win races, he now has a pretty good indicator of where the red machine is at. Lorenzo, meantime, will be increasingly frustrated by his recent inability to win, or in this latest instance, even finish on the podium. He looked pretty displeased when he got off the bike after Sunday’s race. If you’d told him before the start he was going to be beaten to third by Nicky Hayden, there’s a fair bet he wouldn’t have believed you. Impressively, Ducati seems to have found something – at least as far as the Aragon track is concerned. From what I hear, the key for Stoner has been an adjustment of his body position on the bike, which seems to have helped offset the imbalance caused by engine placement and chassis geometry issues. I wonder why they couldn’t have thought of this earlier in the year. Regardless, I hope these changes work at the remaining tracks and that Casey can win a few more before the year is out. Someone else who should be less than pleased after Sunday is Andrea Dovizioso. He really should have beaten Ben Spies comfortably. The pair had a great battle, but the Italian has far more GP experience than the American and also has the benefit of a full factory bike. Honda would have been expecting much better than a last lap crash. There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the particulars of Dovizioso’s future with the factory team for next year, and this result definitely won’t help his cause – no matter what his contract says he’s entitled to.
After seeing him struggle so badly in Sunday’s race, Valentino Rossi should opt out of the remaining races and have surgery to fix his shoulder. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by postponing the inevitable. He’s not fighting for the championship and will not win another race this year in his current condition. As such, there’s zero benefit from riding in pain for the rest of the year, battling for positions he would normally be able to achieve with one hand tied behind his back. He needs to think about next year and concentrate on being one hundred percent fit for the start of the 2011 season. I note that he’s now decided to commit only to the next three races before deciding on whether to end his 2010 campaign early. I wouldn’t bother. The shoulder is clearly proving to be a major issue and won’t improve by itself. He needs to get the work done now. The other key thing to consider is the recovery time. Vale knows it will take two-months to get over this type of surgery. Only then will he be able to begin training and preparing properly for 2011. He’s also not getting any younger, so he really needs to give his body all the advantages he can. I know there’s probably a lot of pressure on him from numerous quarters – Dorna especially – to see out the remaining races of the current calendar. However, he needs to put himself and his health first. There are no prizes for soldiering on unnecessarily. Next year will be tough. He needs to start it off in the best possible shape.

Wayne Gardner