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Thick Skin

As talented as our Darling Nicky is, I hope that he has thick skin. The European Press is going to be all over the little guy if he continues to struggle as he has in the pre-season. I can't imagine that Valentino is going to be so generous during the racing season.
 

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I want to see Nicky do well and am glad Rossi saw fit to provide a tow. The euro press will trash him now that, "Rossi taught him how to ride ... " but that's to be expected. No worries cause when the season starts, Nicky can follow anyone he wants around the track. I just hope he'll learn how to let them follow him before too long.
 

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Meanwhile in the Official IRTA Tests....

While Honda are off to Australia playing with themselves, the other teams (other than Suzuki -- and the Proton and WCM teams, who do not have their bikes running yet) were in the second day of a two-day official test at Estoril in Portugal.

Day one was basically a wash-out, with only a few laps on slicks, for those teams lucky enough to be ready when the rain momentarily cleared. Slow-speed crashes in the rain sent Melandri, as well as the only female racer in gp at the time -- Katja Poensgen (in 250gp) to the hospital. Melandri apparently suffered an A-C separation (collarbone to shoulder), but is expected to be ready for the next test in about 2 weeks.

Day two was better, but overnight rain had left deep puddles that did not dry until about 1:00 PM.

In spite of limited test time and cold track conditions, Alex Barros (Yamaha) managed to get under the lap record set by Carlos Checa last year. Not bad, especially considering that this was on race tires.

Checa (Yamaha) and Capirossi (Ducati) were close behind, at times that would have put them on the second row. If you assume that qualifying tires are good for 0.5 second, these guys were at front row times for last year.

Colin Edwards (Aprilia) and Troy Bayliss (Ducati) were in 4th and 6th spots respectively. Considering that they had never seen the track before and had less than 1/2 day total dry practice, this is a great showing.

Kawasakis bring up the rear (with Pitt fastest), as has been the pattern, but it seems that they may have narrowed the gap from the rest of the field -- Pitt was 2 seconds slower than Barros (and the same as the fastest 250). Still a long ways to go.

Honda seem to be avoiding the possibility of direct comparison of their test times to those of other teams. However, the recent Phillip Island times are right there with what both Capirossi and Bayliss did with the Ducatis in December, in much worse weather conditions and with last year's tires.

It seems that there may be reasonable parity among Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and Aprilia this year, with a number of riders also having the potential to run up front. This looks like it could be the most competitive field in memory.

Our first real comparison with all bikes on the track at the same time, and with official timing, will be at the Barcelona IRTA tests in mid-March. All the teams are expected to be there, and the fastest time wins a new BMW car, so I assume nobody will be sandbagging!

Can't wait. Meanwhile, we do get the first WSB round this weekend. I pick Ducati for the win -- this is about as much a gamble as picking BMW to take the Daytona Boxer Cup.

Bring on the racing!

Cheers

Bob
 

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Re: Meanwhile in the Official IRTA Tests....

Excellent post and interpretation Bob. Keep it up bucko and I'll be in the unemployement line, before the MotoGP bikes turn a wheel in anger.
 

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Wow this is going to be so good. It's going to be very entertaining seeing Nicky progress. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if he turns out to be the best in the world. A little improvement each time will get him there. Go Nicky ! I think the kid has a gift

and some smarts to boot. Plus don't you get the feeling that God enjoys watching him race as much as we do. It's just one of those beautiful things.
 

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Re: Meanwhile in the Official IRTA Tests....

I second Sean's post. I don't know how you get all your info, but you don't disappoint. That said, Ducati?? I'll call my bookie and we can work something out. While I agree that this year's field is going to be a lot more competitive than last year, I don't know if I'd go with the Duck. Also, I grew a little worried about Barros' chances when I saw on "another" motorcycle site pics of the M1 and they are trying out a twin-shock setup in the rear. I know they didn't grab the shocks off a Sportster, but doesn't this seem like a last ditch effort to work out the bike. I mean, I know there's still time and everybody's still working things out, but to try something as unconventional as that seems a bit desperate. Maybe I'm way off here...does anybody else successfully use this setup??
 

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Nicky is a gamer. As his laps behind Rossi demonstrate, he does best when riding with others. Even when at the top of the game in AMA Superbike, he was never the greatest qualifier. But him in a race with the rest of the pack and he rises to the challenge. He'll do well in MotoGP.
 

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I am too young to have gotten to see "King" Kenny Roberts race. I feel lucky to be at the 2nd coming. I have gotten to follow Nicky's career and even had the privlidge of seening him race in person. He is special and will be world Champ, it is his destiny.
 

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I am too young to have gotten to see "King" Kenny Roberts race. I feel lucky to be at the 2nd coming. I have gotten to follow Nicky's career and even had the privlidge of seeing him race in person. He is special and will be world Champ, it is his destiny.
 

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Re: Meanwhile in the Official IRTA Tests....

Thanks. The info comes from a bunch of different web sites, but largely from Crash.net and MotoGP.com, as well as several italian sites that a friend helps translate.

My Ducati reference is to the World Superbike event (aka Ducati Cup), where Ducati are the only factory team this year (other than the Foggy Petronas effort). If anyone else cracks the top 10, it will be quite an accomplishment!

In MotoGP, my money is on Barros, but Rossi is still the one to beat.

If I have a chance, I'll try get some more information togather on the M1 prototype. Looks like they are trying to break new ground in tuned chassis flex. This is being tested in parallel to the regular M1 that Barros, Checa etc will be racing. Abe has been hired specifically to work with this test program. Maybe by this weekend I can post something on this.

Cheers

Bob
 

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I think some of you are in "la la land" considering Nicky. He is a great and talented rider but his skill does not match Capirossi, Barros, Biaatchi, Rossi, nor Mr. Edwards. He won't be winning any podiums this year. If he will be great, it won't be for a few years.
 

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2003 Roadrace Season Starts This Weekend

The 2003 roadracing season starts for real this weekend with the opening round of the World Superbike series at Valencia. For those who get SpeedTV, both rounds are televised this Sunday (check your local times).

While some may argue that the WSB will be but a shadow of its former self, with only Ducati and Petronas fielding factory teams, with no competitive Japanese bikes, and with the biggest star riders from last year having bailed (Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss, as well as Nori Haga to MotoGP and Ben Bostrom returning to the AMA). However, in spite of being largely a Ducati parade, there should be some great racing.

Ruben Xaus should provide some of the drama that Nitro Nori did last year, and if he can avoid too many crashes, should be a leading contender this year. Troy Corser has already been impressive with the new Foggy Petronas, and should become more competitive as the season progresses.

There are several 1000cc 4s (Suzuki and Yamaha), at least one Honda RC-51 and an Italian squad of Kawasaki 750s competing this weekend. More Japanese 4s are rumored for later in the season. None of these are expected to seriously challenge the factory and semi-factory Ducatis, but should provide some useful information for the expected 2004 return of the Japanese factories.

In any case, it beats Hell out of anything else on TV this time of year.

For more, check this out http://www.worldsuperbikes.com/fullstory.asp?ID=4164
 

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I don't believe he will be champ this yr, but he will be the champion before long. He will though make a podium this year. It will be at the second half of the season. He needs time to learn the bike and his competitors.
 

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DREAMERS...All you people are DREAMERS. I thank Nicky is a great rider. BUT he is not even in the top 15 or 20 in talent. Bladman is right.It will be YEARS for him to get in the top 10 if ever. Honda screwed up on the EDWARDS deal and thay will pay for it BIG........ Dont forget the BEN BOSTROM deal . Boy I do love my 954
 

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Ben



I guess I am somewhere in between your position and that of some of the others here.



If you are talking pure, inate talent, it is possible that there are 15 or 20 riders better than Nicky. There ARE a lot of very talented riders out there, between 125, 250 and MotoGP, WSB and the various national superbike series (eg AMA, BSB etc). However, many of these extremely talented riders will not, or at least have not yet, proven their ability to translate that potential into significant race wins.



Success also depends on psychological and other personal factors. It depends a great deal on strategic thinking, good decision-making, self confidence and extreme concentration. Look at all the young hotshots that come on the scene with great lap times, only to crash and burn (often literally) under pressure. Look at all the times that Rossi was 3rd or 4th in qualifying, sat back in 2nd or 3rd for much of the race, until the leaders eventually cracked under the pressure and made a big mistake, "handing" Rossi the win. That is not Rossi's luck, that is his mental toughness, and the relative lack of same on the part of most of his competitors.



For a couple of examples of very talented riders who fall down (literally and figuratively) in this dimension, I would cite Checa. Very fast, very exciting to watch, but has not yet proven his ability to win consistantly. In WSB, Rueben Xaus seems to fall into that catagory.



Until this past year, I would have put Alex Barros there as well. However, he seems to have reached deep down and found some toughness, and finally after years as an also-ran, is argueably best in MotoGP today.



This is where Biaggi falls down, in my opinion. He probably is at least as talented as Rossi, but somehow Rossi has found the way to mind-f#ck him, both on and off the track. Until Max figures how to deal with that, he is destined to be beaten on the track.



I ink this is where Colin and Troy will really shake up MotoGP this year. It is not only because of their raw talent, but also because, in my opinion, their guts, determination and racecraft are much better than that of most of the very talented MotoGP regulars. Rossi will not be able to mind-f#ck them like he does Max. If Aprilia and Ducati can deliver bikes that are even CLOSE to the Hondas and Yamahas, they will be fighting and clawing for the podium.



Nicky seems to have the kind of personality to not let himself get beaten up mentally. He certainly has worked his ass off in all the trials. It actually may work to his advantage for everyone to now have lower short-term ns of him. That will give him the opportunity to learn the tracks, learn his competitors, learn about life on the international scene.



My guess is that Nicky will not get on the podium this year, and that he will generally be back around 10th place, more or less where Hopper was last year, but at the same time, it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to see him up there later in the season.



Cheers

Bob



 
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