Thursday, May 04, 2006

MotoGP Preview

Round 3: Istanbul Park, Turkey
Turkey's the country that keeps on giving. It's given us Turkish Delight - that strange red confectionary that we're told 'best not ask what it's actually made from' yet it tastes like perfume. It's given us kebabs - the majestic partner to chilli sauce. It's also given bird flu to Europe causing millions of stoned Dutch chickens to hide in bunkers built by Hilter. But these culinary and avian achievements pale into insignificance when compared to the brilliant new Istanbul Park circuit. Horrah for motorsport!

Designed primarily for F1, possibly by that famous Krautish geezer, the Istanbul Park circuit was planned to allow Formula One cars to overtake - a pipedream that became a reality last year when midway through the parade the driver in 16th position was able to just squeeze past the car ahead due to it suffering from a chronic misfire and two flat tyres. The TV cameras missed the unique event with the pictures being subsequently deemed 'far too risky' to show on replay in case a kipping fan were to wake up in a confused panic.
Thankfully Istanbul Park breaks the tradition of most new circuits by actually having some decent corners and fast straights instead of million and one second gear chicanes named after Aryton Senna. Like all modern tracks it's also reassuringly safe.

There are downsides however. The ever-present kebab grease pouring down the hills can cause riders troubles if it ebbs up onto the racing line - probably causing Gibernau to fall off. Also the track is already bumpy in places caused by the heavy braking of F1 cars as they desperately try to avoid passing each other. The ripples can upset the balance of a MotoGP machine entering a corner and again giving more scope for Gibernau to lose the lead in a comic fashion.

Heading the rider's table is none other than Leaky Lung Loris for Ducati. Capirossi, however, is at a disadvantage here having never rode at Istanbul Park due to missing the race last year due to injuries sustained by a boomerang 'happy slap' at Phillip Island. Despite this Capirossi is as confident as what he is small knowing that Bridgestone had a reasonable race here last season with his then team-mate Carlos 'why, is that bucket of cash for me?' Checa earning a creditable fifth position.

If Bridgestone do have the tyre to win then expect Capirossi's comedian team-'mate' Jester Gibernau to be pushing for the victory. The oily bladdered Spaniard is ready to prove he's the main man at Bolognaise Ducati after a public verbal punch up between himself and Capirossi. If Gibernau chooses to collect Capirossi when he drifts into the gravel (whilst leading, roughly two laps from the end of the race) then, hopefully, the pairing will end up brawling trackside - a punch-up that 97% of you claim will be won by the Italian.

And then there's Rossi. Is he back? Was it Jerez or Qatar that was the blip? Who cares as for the first time in about a billion years the curly haired pasta pusher is not leading the championship. It won't last - but just like Hayden's view of beating Pedrosa - we should appreciate it while it lasts.
Luckily none of Rossi's fans really understand the championship, or indeed motorcycles, so don't yet realise that the championship running Italian isn't leading the world again. Still it would be a brave fool who'd bet against Rossi winning in Turkey despite his Colin-contracted chatter problems.

The remaining threats to the front come in the form of the evil HRC riders, Tamada aside obviously.
Inbred banjo hero Nicky Hayden leads the charge having now finished on the podium in succession more times than he's copped off with a relative at a barn dance. Hayden will be hoping to again defeat his seven-atom successor Dani Pedrosa too to banish the embarrassment of Jerez.

The young evil riders of Stoner and Elias have already this season, unlike Tamada, proven their worth at HRC and could easily upset the big boys once more. Stoner in particular may be even stronger than he was in Qatar if this time he chooses not to sleep in the airport for two nights and hitch-hike to the track. This isn't Brisbane Casey.

Finally Marco Melandri will be hoping for better results after two fairly crappy opening races (by his standards, not Tamada's). Melandri, who was cursed the moment I put him in my fantasy team, claimed he'd made a break-through in testing after Qatar race - however as we all know Colin 'sixth place will do me fine' Edwards made similar 'break-throughs' in testing about 20 times last year.


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