The golden age of the SBK immediately came to my mind while I was watching the savage fight in Assen. Back then, every single race was like that: many official bikes, a lot of brave and talented riders, many overtakes and countless crashes. In fact, MotoGP has one thing in common with SBK’s best times: the tires. If you use worst quality materials, your strategy’s main focus can’t be the overall performance anymore, it has to be adherence all the way through the race, until the final lap. If all riders take it easy for two-thirds of the race, nobody breaks away because everyone is scared to be left with nothing but the frame (here you can find GP’s reports and final ranking).
A TALENT – Those who know the racing world’s backstage and all the tricks promoters use to give the audience a more entertaining show certainly understood that Assen’s result would have been decided in the last five or six laps. And that’s what happened. Marc Marquez made his quickest lap (1’34”261) just the third to last of the 26 total laps. For more than half of the race, he remained on an average time of more than 1’34”: only when he realized that the tires where still fine he decided to speed up and took a solo victory. At Bridgestone times, when covers were more performing than the current Michelin, Marc would have probably been on the ground.
A LEAD – The pace of the race was relatively slow for most of the laps, as we can see also from the final margins that have been smaller than usual: Dani Pedrosa had an identity crisis on his Honda HRC, the same bike rode by the winner, and he only crossed the finish line 15th, 16 seconds from Marquez. Alvaro Bautista is another example: two years ago, when Ducati was managed by a private team, he made it to the finish line 8th, only 7 seconds from Marquez. Usually, the time margin among riders so far away from each other in the ranking is much larger.
A BREAKAWAY – At the Championship’s turning point, Marc Marquez has 41 points more than the second rider in the ranking, Valentino Rossi, who hasn’t been winning for a year now and is a relatively irrelevant concern for the Honda’s tightrope walker. The same can be said for Maverick Vinales (-47 points), who has been fasting even longer, and Johann Zarco (-59 points), the French rider who has never won a race in MotoGP so far. Marquez’s only frame of reference in MotoGP is (was?) Ducati. But Andrea Dovizioso is already 61 points behind and Jorge Lorenzo 65. These are very hard-to-fill gaps, especially considering that the current World Champion counts two 0 (Argentina and Mugello) in 8 GPs. If the rest of the riders are so far from the head of the ranking, whose average points are 17.5 per GP (not an outstanding average), it means that the Borgo Panigale’s riders have much to complain about (Andrea Dovizioso’s team in particular).
A CELEBRATION – Marc Marquez won a race of great emotional intensity, taking many risks but using a strategy can be defined as a true masterpiece. We should have pulled our hair out of excitement! But when things go wrong for Italian riders, local TV commentators lower their voices. It’s like soccer’s die-hard fans would stop singing when their team takes a goal. What a pity! Some exceptional talents and motorbike’s shows should be celebrated regardless of national fondness. This is not soccer, and TV programs shouldn’t be on Rossi-Dovi Channel only…