Monday, May 7

FINALLY, A MOTOGP RECORD FALLS

By MICHAEL ESDAILE

Three rounds into the 2012 MotoGP Championship and so far only two records have been broken, despite the move to the bigger 1000cc engines.


Conditions at Qatar's Losail circuit were similar to previous years but neither the pole record, the lap record or the race record - all set in 2008 - were broken.


At Jerez it rained in practice so not surprisingly Jorge Lorenzo's 2008 pole record remained intact. Then in the race the track was cold, so the lap and race records were not touched.


And at Estoril, Casey Stoner’s pole-setting lap time (1m 37.188s) on May 5 was well outside Jorge Lorenzo’s 1m 35.715s record set on Michelins in 2008 – on an 800cc Yamaha.


While Lorenzo's pole record did not fall, Pedrosa’s 2009 lap record of 1m 36.937s was trimmed a fraction by Lorenzo in his pursuit of Stoner, the new mark standing at 1m 36.909s.


However, despite the relentless pressure from Lorenzo throughout the 28 lap race, Stoner’s time for the 28 laps was two seconds slower than Lorenzo’s 2009 race record, which stands at 45m 35.522s.


So over the first three races of the new 1000cc MotoGP era, the only records that have been broken are the Estoril lap record already detailed, and the crowd attendance figure at the Portuguese track: 48,000+ spectators squeezing into the facility after the race organisers slashed general admission ticket prices to just 5 Euro.


How can this be the case when the 1000cc bikes are more powerful and faster than the hard-to-ride and much unloved 800cc machines?


Well, there are two obvious culprits: the 1000cc bikes have to sip the same 21 litres of petrol as the 800cc bikes did, meaning that in race mode, fuel economy is critical; the other factor is the new more rider-friendly Bridgestone tyres which give better feedback but degrade over the course of a race so that lap times fall off. However, having said that, at Estoril, Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa started off in the 1m 38s bracket, got down into the high 1:37s mid-race and were still banging out 1:38s at the end, Stoner dipping into the 1m 37s over the final three laps.


Truly an epic effort from all three.