The throaty roar of an inline-four, the swish of a chequered flag, the camaraderie of riding together, and the legends and their greatest hits.

To Different Shores

What would you do to watch a race? To ensure that you wouldn’t miss it, even for a minute? My home comes to a standstill every Race Day evening. I hold on to the remote for my dear life, no one’s allowed to have a conversation on anything, except of course the race, and god forbid someone walks across the television. So, yes, I just about turn into a tyrant. But, this Sunday, I will be a subdued, sleepy, slightly grumpy tyrant, looking on at sunshiny California and the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

That’s the deal with time zones. The race begins at 2.30am in India. Seven hours later, I will be at work battling Monday morning meetings and other project thingummabobs. You would think I’d just record the race. Uh-huh. The thought hasn’t even crossed my mind. Why would you even think that?

Besides, silly season’s begun at MotoGP, Valentino Rossi scored his best run yet at Mugello and will probably try to repeat that miracle, and it’s possible that Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner will play chase down the Corkscrew. Miss it? No way!

Anyway, MotoGP has finally meandered its way through Europe and on to the US shores, and Laguna Seca. Oof. That very name sends shivers down my spine. I have flashes of that incredible Rossi vs Stoner showdown – ironically this time, it’ll be Rossi on the Ducati. If you haven’t seen it (blasphemy!), here it is, yet again. If you have seen it, go on, see it once again. I insist.

At the Corkscrew, MotoGP 2010. Image courtesy wangatang000; Used under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

But first, the track itself. What’s not to love? It was built in 1957 and its classic feature is The Corkscrew or Turns 8 and 8A. It’s one of those challenging sections with elevation changes that sometimes defy sanity. The section drops 59 feet between the entrance to the turn and the exit at Turn 8A. From Turn 8 to 9, the elevation drop is 109 feet! This is also where Rossi famously overtook Stoner in 2008, scoring his first US victory. The circuit runs anti-clockwise with 11 curves and a track length of 3.58 kms. The dream run, of course, came with Nicky Hayden in 2005. He scored his first GP win here, when MotoGP returned to the US after 10 years. This time, we need to watch out for Jorge Lorenzo, who has been fast this season. He has also been on pole here for the last three years.

Speaking of Lorenzo though, his teammate Ben Spies caught everyone off guard with his little Twitter news. He will be leaving Yamaha after this season. He has kept his cards pretty close so far, though he did say at the pre-race press conference, “I’ve known for quite a bit what my personal decision was and I thought this was the right time to do it with all the contracts happening with other riders.” You can read more about it here.

Of course, that little piece of news has set everyone off. We all know Vale hasn’t been a happy trooper at Ducati. There has been so much of back and forth so far, and then there have been those meetings with the people over at Audi. Of course, Cal Crutchlow has been offered a seat with the team. Who will go, we wonder? Nicky Hayden or Vale? Or will they even go? And of course, the kicker question, will Vale move to Yamaha and take over Spies’ spot? Will he play second fiddle to Lorenzo? That has happened in the past, hasn’t it, much to Vale’s chagrin?

MotoGP 2011 at Laguna Seca. Image courtesy Fly.ying; Used under Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

I know we want that. It would be ideal wouldn’t it? But, there’s something so wrong with that idea. In so many ways, it sounds too much like giving up. Yes, the Ducati isn’t the best of machines right now (I know that’s an understatement). Imagine though, a Championship win with the Dream Team? That’s stuff of dreams. And if that happens, it will be nothing short of legendary. It will be Vale’s “up yours” to the naysayers. I know I sound idealistic, a dreamer even. But, Vale doesn’t really seem the sort who would back away from a challenge.

Vale’s choice though is important. In so many ways, it will decide his future, the way his career will turn. He said so himself. quoted him as saying, “From one side (at Ducati) we have a lot of work to do, but good impression and good feeling for the future. With some other choice (assumed to be Yamaha) is more safe and more sure that it is possible to be competitive in a short period… It is also a particular moment in my career, so I have to decide what is more important for the future.” You can read the story here.

Lorenzo however, has said to the media that the move will be a great thing for Yamaha. “…because we were a good pair in the past…The preference is to have a competitive rival in the same team. It would be a good stimulation for me to be better and faster each year.” I wonder what Vale has to say about that.

With each day though, the 2013 grid becomes a little clearer. Last night, Hayden announced that he had signed on with Ducati for one more year. Rossi though had another frustrating practice session after he crashed within 10 minutes of the session. The Ducati comes to Laguna Seca with improvements. Time will tell how far this will take the team. Till then, there is a part of me that hopes Rossi stays on at Ducati. There’s just too much unfinished business there.

Forza #17

A few days ago, Albert Llovera posted another picture of Joan Lascorz. It was taken at the Guttman Institute. Here’s what he said:

I have visited the Guttman Institute today and I’ve assisted to the first wheelchair lifted of Joan Lascorz. Now I’ve to hurry up he comes to backfire with Llove MasJoan Lascorz and Joan Lascorz.

Joan’s smile says it all: Strength, Faith, and Courage. Here it is:

Albert Llovera and Joan Lascorz. Image taken from

Stay Strong Joan.

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Categorised in: Faces, MotoGP

6 Responses

  1. Corkscrew time!!!!
    My boy has chosen the wrong week to grow the last of his teeth but stayed quiet last night for Eurosport’s live practice (needed an Olympic break!) so my hopes are high for no qualifying interruptions!
    Writing race reports online for Moto2 and Moto3 means I am gonna try and chill out this week and enjoy the racing as there is no work involved, having said that, as well as being a signed up member of your no interruptions club, I also record all races to hard drive and back up to DVD, in case something I am not prepared for happens!

    I will be up in the early hours for the races that are time affected in the UK, so no sleep for Japan, Australia and Malaysia, gonna be tired by the end of October!

    Thanks for the Lascorz update too, was wondering how he was doing, his progress given what happened is remarkable and he always seems to be smiling through his troubles, publically at least, what wonderful strength of character!

  2. Slightly unrelated but heard more about the massive power outages where you are, hope it all gets back to normal soon!

    • Don’t get me started on the power blackout 😀 It even influenced my next post – putting it up soon 🙂 Now, every time there is a power cut we wonder if it’s the grid that’s acting up again!!! Thank god, it’s monsoons in Delhi.

      • I think the difference beewten Lorenzo, on one hand, and Pedrosa and Stoner on the other is that Pedrosa and Stoner don’t have the battle that Rossi does. They are both very fast when properly set up but they aren’t great battlers. Look at Laguna last year, it was a great battle but it was mostly Rossi doing the actual battling. Lorenzo, on the other hand, is Rossi’s equal in a battle. He’s almost his equal in charisma. I totally agree that he will skate once Rossi retires. Until then, it is going to be great viewing. I am happy they at least seem amiable because I really like them both.

    • Stoner’s peak season at Ducati was his first, 2007, with 10 vircetios. Afterwards, there was a very noticeable downward trend: 6, 4, and 3 wins in successive years. To me that looks like a program already in real decline before his departure, and suggesting that someone else would be 2011 World Champion had Casey not left Ducati.


  1. The Corkscrew, Ducati, and the Northern Power Grid | Riding Fast and Flying Low
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