Sunday, June 24, 2007

Donington Park: Wet, not the best, but fascinating - Mimitig

This weekend The Park has again been host to the very finest of motor-cycle racers, enthusiasts and fans for the British round of MotoGP 2007. Over 100,000 visitors grace this Leicestershire race-track when the engines roar, and they come with love in their hearts for the great Tom Wheatcroft who rescued DP in the 1970s and made it into a world-famous venue. 1993 took the track into the headlines as Ayrton Senna drove to victory in what has been described as one of his best ever drives in a Formula One car - in rain that current MotoGP commentator, former tin-top driver and all-round top Aussie Charlie Cox, would describe as being of “biblical proportions”.

MotoGP arrived here earlier this week and I took time out yesterday to see what the boys were saying about the first sessions and watch an extremely exciting qualifying session. Naturally, there was no criticism of the circuit - it’s a fabulous race-track with no hugely long straights to favour horse-power, and only a little bit of the mickey-mouse stuff that is now de rigueur in high-speed motor racing of any sort. The Craner Curves must rate up there with any pieces of tarmac that these boys race on (except maybe the “Corkscrew” at Laguna Seca - the most truly heart-in-mouth place on the racing calendar). Redgate and Coppice are pretty exciting too, and it’s no surprise that “old” pro Valentino rates the circuit up near the top of his favourites. However, young Casey had a lot to say about the condition of the tarmac. Reckoned it was slippery, like riding on a greased track - as Mr Parrish said, that’ll be all the oil and fat from the burger vans then! We understand that at the latest music bash (as much as motor-sport, Donington is about music - big, loud music) the food wagons were stationed on the track itself. Well, it didn’t stop the Texas Tornado (Colin Edwards) from blasting to his second pole of the season, and our boy Vale (he has a home in London) nicely rounding out the 1-2 for Yamaha. The boy-wonder Stoner could only finish in 5th, on the second row of the grid.

On Sunday afternoon, with rain hammering it down outside my window, I rather hoped for similar weather down south. A totally wet race was bound to be exciting - they always are. A disappointment then, to find the worst sort of conditions prevailing. Drizzling rain, the track wet enough to demand full-cut wet tyres, but all signs that during the 30 laps, it would begin to dry. However, there’s always a chance of surprises at the first corner, and we did get a few. Edwards was off from pole like a harpoon but Rossi got a bit duffed up while Nicky Hayden (reigning World Champ) made up places - before chucking it off at Coppice a few laps later. Others binned it as well, including Loris Capirossi - who had been going very nicely, and GP debutant Anthony West, coming in to Kawasaki for the injured Olivier Jacques. West got back on, and having only had a couple of days testing on a GP bike, hauled himself back to 11th by the end. I think we’ll see him back for the next race.

With 15 laps to go, Edwards seemed to allow Casey Stoner past without a fight. Tyre problems beginning to bite had led to a small mistake, but it would only have been a matter of time. No one could match the Wizard from Oz on his Ducati today, and in the closing stages another Aussie, Chris Vermuelen mugged Rossi for the final podium place.

All in all, it was a bit of a damp squib of a race compared to the preceding 7, but it’s possible that we have seen the changing of the guard. Stoner rode like the veteran he most certainly is not, but it seems, this season, that he can take everything thrown at him, and answer back in spades.

13 comments:

andrewm said...

Fucking ace, mimi :)

MotM said...

I enjoyed the first seven laps or so, but once the race settled Stoner looked like he had far too much for anyone else, including Capirossi, which must worry Rossi as Loris is no mug, so what does that make the Wizard? He was pretty damning about the track on the radio - as a winner, he has the right.

I'm looking forward to the corkscrew at LS, but Rossi has really got to do something very soon or yet another Aussie will be at the top of world sport.

mimi said...

Mouth: another Aussie at the top of world sport? And that would be a problem? Outside of the cricks, I don't see them ruling the world in quite the same way as they used to, but even if they did, wouldn't it just show some hopefuls what is needed to succeed? Remember young Casey left Australia at the age of 14 to come racing in Britain.
And Rossi said some of the same things about the condition of the track surface, but when it came down to it, they were all on the same tarmac - except those who chucked it into the fence.

MotM said...

Mimi - True re the tarmac I suppose. For the showpiece event, it really should be perfect though.

Re Aussies, I guess they don't rule the roost in rugby or swimming at the moment, nor the tennis, so let's enjoy it while we can!

Great to see this here - MotoGP is covered dismally by the press in the UK.

Zeph said...

So this Stoner guy's quite good then? :)

It's a great read, Mimi, even for someone with my depthless ignorance of the subject

marcela said...

i'll echo zeph!

don't know the first thing about the subject but did enjoy reading this. biblical proportion rain i can relate to, and you've got to respect anyone called 'stoner'.

also, TCM2 is showing Grand Prix, which ain't bad, so i've got the sound effects going on at the same time:)

mimi said...

Marcela: if I hadn't ruthlessly edited myself, this piece would also have run to a dazzling review of last nights Killers' performance at Glastonbury. I have it in the vaults ...

byebyebadman said...

didn't rate the Killers Mimi, but Bjork sounded very good on Friday :)

Really enjoyed this - loved every word even though it's on a topic about which I know pretty much nothing. Had I a cap I would doth it in your general direction!

Casey Stoner is a great name, sounds like he should be a character in Point Break or something.

levremance said...

Without wishing to labour my (awful) pun of last week, and given that Stoner won and the little Rae of Sunshine was barred from racing, you could sum it up by saying:

Casey!...and the Sunshine banned

offside said...

And Mimi takes the checkered flag... in style. In a class of her own, as always, in wet conditions. Nice wheeling, miss Mimi.

DoctorShoot said...

good post Mimi thanks.

Levre should be ashamed of the gratuitous pun extension but I had to laugh...

anyway, why do these heroic riders all look like pretty schoolkids? I must be getting old...

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mimi said...

lev: the pun is majestic - would have made a better title for this piece.
Anon - until I know who you are I won't risk your link.
Doc - they're not all pretty young boys: Loris Capirossi - a sound old italian lad. Mind you Casey looks like you'd check his id if he bought grog, and even Vale is too young for his years. Ah me.

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