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Episode 22 of the MotoGP™ Podcast is up and running and on this week’s show, hosts Matt Dunn and Fran Wyld are joined by regular analysists Simon Crafar and John Hopkins to discuss the keys of going fast at the Sachsenring, and some of the talking points from the weekend. Moreover, Matt and Fran talk to Moto2™ star Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) about his rise to Grand Prix podium finisher.
Hopkins first discusses Fabio Quartararo’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) first Sunday afternoon crash of the season, the rookie sensation bowing out of the German GP prematurely while trying to make up ground on the leaders.
“Let’s be honest, this is his rookie season but he’s been riding like he’s a full-time veteran, he’s not made any mistakes whatsoever, bar the little stall-out that he had at Qatar - that was all nerves there,” said Hopkins. “But this was definitely his first rookie mistake of the year as far as racing goes. He just got a little bit flustered there at the beginning, he was the one rider I think that knew in his head that possibly had the pace to stay with Marquez and challenge him at the Sachsenring… I think he just got a little bit flustered from a rider’s point of view.”
Riding through the pain barrier was a hot topic over the weekend as we witnessed LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) put in gladiator performances. Crutchlow claimed a podium less than a week after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament and fracturing the top of his right tibia, while Nakagami produced a heroic weekend having heavily damaged his left ankle ligaments in Assen.
“Speaking from personal experience, I found sometimes that riding with an injury, you would almost find it being an advantage in some ways just in the mere fact that it takes the pressure off you, expectation… because every rider puts so much expectation on themselves,” explained Hopkins.
“With Crutchlow he obviously knows he’s a front runner, he should be battling for the podium race-in, race-out. The last few races haven’t been his greatest results, he hasn’t been running up towards the front but sometimes that little bit of an injury can actually work in your favour. Physically it’s always going to be a problem and as a rider sometimes adrenaline can takeover almost entirely when you’re on the bike. But leading up to a race sometimes, you actually go into the race with a lot less expectation from yourself, the team, fans.”
For the second race in a row, we saw the Team Suzuki Ecstar of Alex Rins crash out of a podium position. What are the thoughts of former Suzuki rider Hopkins on Rins’ Sachsenring mistake?
“I think in his head he had the pace to run with Marquez. I think sometimes, as a rider, you think you’re stronger than you actually are. I mean, riding up against Marquez in Sachsenring is always going to be an almost impossible feat but I think in his head, he thought he had that pace and wanted that win so, so badly. He could almost taste it. So I think that pressure just got to him a little bit too much. A rider is always wanting more, so I think he’s moved on from being happy with being on the podium, now he wants that race win again…”
And what about Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)? ‘The Doctor’ ended a run of three consecutive DNFs with a P9 in Germany, but the nine-time World Champion will be hoping for much more after the summer break. Hopkins offers his view on Rossi’s current form.
“I think that was a better way to finish off the first half of the season. We have got to be honest, he’s still in somewhat of a rut, still struggling with the bike and getting the right setting. Clearly Maverick’s found that setting and is able to get the most out of the bike at the moment. It would have been a lot worse going into the summer break had Rossi overrode the bike and had a silly crash.
“So just getting points on the board, finishing the race, having a solid battle throughout the race… We’re so used to seeing Rossi racing at the front year in, year out but let’s not forget that he has had seasons like in 2006 when he was struggling with the Yamaha, the years he was with Ducati he wasn’t able to feel comfortable with that… confidence is everything like we’ve said in previous podcasts, I don’t think it’s his age and I expect him to be back on it when he comes back after the summer break.”
This is just a snippet of what you can listen to on this episode of the MotoGP™ Podcast. Simon’s Scoops makes another appearance, and what were Matt and Fran doing 10 years ago to put Marquez’ Sachsenring win record into perspective?
Follow this link to listen to Episode 22!
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