CN III IN THE PADDOCK
BY MICHAEL SCOTT
BRING IT ON
acing, much like real life, is
all about transitions. This is
true at so many levels.
Consider the progress of a
MotoGP bike through a chicane.
Its ability to make the transition
from one angle of lean to the other without losing the line or becoming unstable is key to a fast
Or the transition from a slow
corner exit through the gearbox
to sixth. Honda's seamless-shift
gearbox smooths the transitions.
Less interruption to the power
flow pays out in acceleration and
yet more chassis stability.
Transition also among the riders, always. Heroes arrive, grow
older and slower, new ones take
their place. Often before they are
ready to give way; these transitions are seldom smooth and
comfortable at a personal level
for the outgoing ones. It can be
hard to accept the inevitable.
The 2013 season has been
rich in transition. The most prominent being personal: the wresting of the mantle of Greatest of
All Time from Valentino Rossi by
Marc Marquez. Of course, this
is still very much a work in progress. But it is happening faster
and more smoothly than anyone
could have imagined.
Including both riders.
Rossi has made many epic
overtakes in his long and glorious career, but three in particular
stand out: bombing Sete Giber-
nau on the last corner at Jerez in
2005; bamboozling Casey Stoner at the Corkscrew in 2008; and
carving up Jorge Lorenzo at the
last corner at Catalunya in 2009.
So far in his first season, Marquez has repeated two of these
moves, the first on defending
champ Lorenzo, the second on
Rossi himself. Talk about giving
the Doctor a taste of his own
medicine… Perhaps he'll do
Catalunya next year, though he
has little trouble inventing new
moves of his own. It's the legacy
of Moto2. And vast reserves of
Another transition has been
less in the public eye: how the
mantle of Honda White Hope has
passed from Stoner to Marquez
as seamlessly as the famous
gearshift. Even if Pedrosa does
win the title this year (still possi-
ble), that will make no difference.
The stripling has found a warm
welcome in the Stoner pit. Marquez took over Stoner's crew to a
man, aside from bringing his own
Spanish crew chief (Stoner's,
Cristian Gabarini, was promoted
to oversee both riders). Their affection for the new boy knows no
bounds. Not surprising, considering not just the results but also
his persona. Breath of fresh air.
But the Australian is not letting
go that easily, and Honda have
clearly forgiven his precipitate departure, for they have invited him
back for another go. By the time
you read this, the fast and feisty
V8 saloon car racer will have had
the first of four planned tests on
next year's RC213V at Motegi.
He will also be testing next year's
customer bike. On his side, it's
apparently just for the fun of it; on