Cycle News

Cycle News 2014 Issue 13 April 1 2014

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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D ream time is over. We've had a race. And what a race – after a long four-day weekend full of surprises, and yet full of confirmation of the old prin- ciple: The usual guys always win. More or less. The big question left in the desert night seemed to be about Valentino Rossi (this in itself con- tinuing another tradition, estab- lished over his preceding 18 GP years). Is Valentino still one of the usu- al guys who always win? Of course, only time will tell. It certainly gladdened the heart to see him surge into the lead for a good long spell, and all the more so in his stirring final battle with Marc Marquez. Yet the outcome seemed all too predictable. Old Master versus New. And Mr. New has a Honda. It was close all the same. But after watching Rossi's waning over the past three years, howev- er, I am not convinced. Qatar is a weird track, a weird surface, and often has weird outcomes. Last year, for instance, the same pair had a very similar battle, although back then it was for second place - in Marquez's first race in the class. Rossi prevailed that time. Marquez this time. And he hadn't ridden a bike for six weeks. It will be fascinating to watch for the next five races, to see if Vale can sustain it this time round. Crucial for him too: he's given it five races to decide whether to carry on next year or not. And tense for the rest of us: just how many more explosions of excite- ment can we stand? It was a huge relief for one special reason: it provided a very welcome diversion from an embarrassing spell of appar- ently panic-stricken rule changes and confusion, with adjustments to the radical changes still be- ing made right up to race day. It also drew attention away from the greater importance of the new changes: the death knell of traditional factory teams. From 2016, all bikes will run under the "Open" rules, all with the same amount of fuel, the same tires, and the same tires. Rossi's run was just the tonic MotoGP needed after the dire spell of rule fiddling. It started last year, with the creation of "Open" and "Factory Option" categories, the former with 24 compared with 20 liters of petrol, softer tires, free testing, 12 against five engines, and the opportunity for engine development during the season: the only penalty being mandatory use of Dorna's sup- plied software. Ducati's canny self-demotion to "Open" was a shock, and showed the weakness in the grand plan. This triggered the late changes, which were ac- companied by the factories' final formal acceptance of the 2016 sanction. Ducati came out of it pretty well, now called Factory option once more, but running under the same loose regulations as Open bikes. Until they start visiting the rostrum. To many the new rules were BY MICHAEL SCOTT CN III IN THE PADDOCK THE MORE THINGS CHANGE P126

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