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Mamola assesses MotoGP picture ahead of 2009 championship

Mamola assesses MotoGP picture ahead of 2009 championship

Former World Championship runner-up Randy Mamola has given his thoughts on how the main players in the premier class are shaping up for the forthcoming season.

Paddock regular Randy Mamola has been watching the preseason preparations of MotoGP’s ‘front-runners’ as closely as ever ahead of the 2009 season and he believes Casey Stoner may have a critical advantage further to the reduction of practice time this season.

The Australian has been the fastest rider at both preseason tests this year in Malaysia and Qatar, despite not fully recovering from surgery on his left wrist in November, which has prevented him from undertaking a race simulation so far in 2009.

Although Stoner is yet to demonstrate his stamina levels of late, Mamola believes the 2007 World Champion is in good shape and could have the edge over his rivals due to his ability to set the Desmosedici up so quickly on GP weekends – given the cost reduction rule changes in MotoGP which have seen Friday morning free practices removed from the schedules.

“We had to see how Stoner would get on after his operation and it seems to be getting better,” Mamola noted. “At the last test in Qatar he was going well and was starting to prolong his runs. There has not been a big surprise in terms of the first two, Valentino and Casey.”

The American four-time premier class runner-up continued, “The real questions will come when we get to round two in Japan and the riders have three 45-minute sessions to set up their bikes with the tyres, not five or six hours like they get at a test. The two strongest riders in this championship are Casey and Valentino and Casey is the favourite on that side of things, because he gets his bike set-up so quickly.”

Considering the affect that 2009’s other major rule change could have, Mamola also stated, “With going to the single-tyre supplier we have heard the riders say they are in favour and they like it. But it is going to put more pressure on the teams and the riders to make those tyres work for them. Valentino said for 2008 that he wanted to develop his Yamaha around the tyre that Casey had used in general in 2007.”

The former Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda rider went on to say, “Then we also heard that Suzuki had done the same, building a couple of chassis to try and make the tyres work well for their bike. Obviously that work is paying off because Suzuki have been running well in the first two tests of this year. Now that everyone is on the same tyre it is even more crucial to make sure your chassis and your race setting are set to those points. It is not as easy as it looks.”

When asked about the damage Dani Pedrosa’s preseason injuries could do to his title aspirations Mamola replied, “He is basically not allowed to move his leg for four weeks. What happens when you don’t move a muscle for four weeks is that it deteriorates. So Dani is going to be behind whether he races or he doesn’t. Dani can go to Qatar to try and get points, because if he can ride he can most likely finish in the top 15, but I would hate to see him prolong the injury.”

Acknowledging Jorge Lorenzo’s late improvements in the Qatar night test, which saw him shoot up the timesheets into second place on the last evening, Mamola concluded, “For me it was good to see Lorenzo pop up there, but the key point is that it has taken him quite a long time to get up to speed on the new tyres. He had been hovering around the ‘mid-pack’ area in tenth place on the timesheet. Right on that last day he did that long run and it was very encouraging to see because on his last lap he did his best time.”

MotoGP, 2009

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