Well, after much deliberation we have now purchased our little piece of paradise. Without giving away the exact location, the family and I have bought 10 acres just over an hour north west of Melbourne.
We have wanted to do it for a while now and excitedly our dream became a reality last Wednesday. With Australia in the grip of a drought, the recent rains have done wonders for the area.
We traveled out last Sunday to soak up some serenity. We have big plans for the site and will start with a simple dwelling so we can begin to enjoy weekends out there in relative comfort.
For those who are interested I will post here updates from time to time.
Australia‘s Casey Stoner was able to shake the 2007 hoodoo of not winning from pole to claim the Laguna Seca MotoGP. He dominated the race to further extend his lead over Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi.
Rewardingly fellow Aussie and Suzuki pilot Chris Vermeulen scored a dry race podium to finish over 9 seconds behind a blistering Stoner, riding his Ducati.
Marco Melandri, on a Honda, was a distant third, 25.641 seconds behind the Kurri Kurri Kid (Stoner).
In post race interviews Stoner said “I felt really comfortable sitting on the grid, I felt good about the tyres and bike. I just had to go and do the job.”
Surprisingly for most of the race the Ducati was faster than the 990cc lap record for the US track, set last year by Pedrosa on a Honda. Obviously engineering has won over the rule makers, with the introduction to 800cc an attempt to slow them day.
Nicky Hayden’s recent run of good luck ended on the first lap when he was involved in a collision with Suzuki rider John Hopkins. He was able to rejoin the race but had to retire with 10 laps to go. The result will surely hit the Kentucky Kid hard as he (and the parochial crowd) was expecting a good weekend after his solid run of podiums in the last few races.
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi finished fourth, five seconds behind Melandri and 30 seconds behind Stoner, who now tops the standings at 221 points to Rossi’s 177. The pressure is well and truly on the Italian to recapture the consistency that has seen him dominate the championship in previous years.
Ant West, riding for Kawasaki put in another solid result after qualifying 12, he climbed to finish 7th. Surely the formal offer for 2008 from Kawasaki is forth coming for the plucky Australian, who has again proven his undeniable talent.
Once again the MotoGP pole position hoodoo claimed its latest victim, with Casey Stoner (Ducati) finishing 5th in the German MotoGP race, after qualifying on pole for the race start.
Dani Pedrosa (Honda) pounced on Stoner early on in the race and went on to finish almost 10 seconds ahead of second place getter, and Stoner’s team mate Loris Capirossi.
Pedrosa’s team mate Nicky Hayden claimed another podium in what looks to be a better second half of the season for the plucky kid from Kentucky. Pedrosa’s victory was his first victory since the British GP in 2006. in 2007 he has been outshone by the super quick Stoner, his arch enemy from the 250cc category.
Colin Edwards once again showed his consistency to claim the points for 4th position. The big news was the heat for this race, with track temperatures of up to 47 degrees, playing havoc with tyres. Stoner’s rear tyre was at melting point but was able to hang on for his 5th to extend his lead to 32 points over Valentino Rossi for the championship.
Once again Rossi made a mistake whilst overtaking Randy De Puniet (Kawasaki) to record his first, and hopefully last, DNF for the 2007 season.
Aussies Anthony West and Chris Vermeulen finished 8th and 11th respectively. This solid result for West should surely cement his ride in MotoGP for 2008. He has shown that he can mix it with the best.
The season now moves to the US of A where Hayden should be able to continue his recent form and with the right set up, he will be hard to beat.
Top 10 finishers for the race: 1st: Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda2nd: Loris Capirossi – Ducat Marlboro3rd: Nicky Hayden – Repsol Honda4th: Colin Edwards – Fiat Yamaha5th: Casey Stoner – Ducati Marlboro6th: Marco Melandri – Gresini Honda7th: John Hopkins – Rizla Suzuki8th: Anthony West – Kawasaki Racing9th: Alex Hoffman – Pramac D’Antin10th: Michel Fabrizio – Gresini Honda
In the 2007 Dutch TT, the race started as a lot of them had this year. Casey Stoner (Ducati) blasted off to create a large lead which looked to be unsurmountable by the other racers. Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) however forgot to read the script and was out to reassert his dominance in the MotoGP paddock.
Stoner, who qualified next to compatriot Chris Vermeulen in second place, rocketed to the lead from the start and quickly established a lead over the rest of the pack. Rossi who started well down the grid on 11th was the predator to Stoner the prey.
The Ducati had obviously made a softer choice of front tyres, with the Yamaha set up going for a medium compound, and this was a telling fact at the end of the race. It took Rossi quite a number of laps to get comfortable on the bike and that was when he began to shine.
Stoner lead for 22 of the 26 lap race, but he freely admitted after the race that he was able to see the Italians run through the pack on the large TV screens around the track. Rossi was on a mission and deserved the victory. After the race he himself admitted to a confidence problem, in an admission I would have never expected Rossi to make, he stated that he had to convince himself that he could beat the young Australian. I
n other results, once again the pole sitter did not win the race, creating somewhat of a hoodoo for superstitious racers in the field. Unfortunately for Vermeulen he was collected by Kawasaki’s De Puniet whilst in 7th place. He recovered to claim 16th.
Good news however for Kawasaki’s other rider, Ant West, who claimed a top 10 finish. This result hopefully bodes well for his dream of getting a full time MotoGP ride in 2008.
Good news also for Honda’s Nicky Hayden. The 2007 champion recovered from a poor final qualifying to claim a podium place, in 3rd position. It was a great result for the American and I for one was glad to see him get a result he thoroughly deserved. Unbelievably it was his first podium for 2008. All weekend he hadn’t been lower than 3rd in the results and was bitterly disappointed to qualify in 13th.
Stoner now leads the championship on 185 points, with Rossi on 164. With the series now in its second half, I look forward to more exciting racing.
The top ten race results were:
1st – Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
2nd – Casey Stoner (Ducati)
3rd – Hayden (Honda)
4th – Pedrosa (Honda)
5th– Hopkins (Suzuki)
6th – Edwards (Yamaha)
7th – Barros (Ducati)
8th – Hofmann (Ducati)
9th – West (Kawasaki)
10th – Melandri (Honda)
As Australia is gripped with the effects of a drought, it is interesting that the Australians competing in the 2007 MotoGP are reveling in the wet conditions that have been presented to them in the 2007 season.
Once again, Casey Stoner (Ducati) and Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) showed that they feel right at home in the wet conditions. In his 2007 debut race Anthony West (Kawasaki) showed that he can mix it with the front runners. Unfortunately for Ant he ran wide in a corner, and after a valiant fight to keep the bike moving and upright, had a small fall. He was in 5th position at the time, even overtaking Rossi to get there. He was able to salvage a credible 11th in the race.
After some thrilling races this year, this years Donnington round was a little more pedestrian. The Texan Tornado (Colin Edwards) on the Fiat M1 Yamaha, raced to an early lead, followed closely by the pack, including Dani Pedrosa on the factory Honda. Both Stoner and Rossi mysteriously dropped well back in the pack after lackluster starts.
Edwards held on to get a solid second place, and once again Vermeulen showed his class in the wet with a great 3rd place, in what is becoming a good championship season for him.
This race proved two things…
- Casey Stoner continues to defy his critics – I hope that this race finally puts to rest the opinion that he is only winning due to the horsepower advantage of the Ducati
- Valentino Rossi is human – This year (Donnington included) has seen Valentino make mistakes and suffer the consequences.
All through the beginning of this season pundits have expressed that Stoners victories have been simply due to the speed of the Ducati. It implies that he is not as good as the other riders in the field, but his recent strong performances in the wet and on the tighter European tracks show that it is not just the bike. The Kurri Kurri Kid has undeniable talent. The powers to be at Ducati must be rubbing there hands with glee after they literally ‘stole’ Casey’s signature late last year.
And yes Valentino is human. He has made many little mistakes this year. More often than not this has seen other riders take advantage of these mistakes. At Donnington he looked to make a wrong tyre choice. Whilst it performed well in the mid part of the race, he faded quickly towards the end. So much so that when Vermeulen out braked him to take 3rd place it showed the importance of getting the choice right especially with the new tyre rules in 2007.
Rossi is not making huge mistakes and is still only 26 point behind Stoner in the championship race, but what is doing is showing the other riders that he is beatable. Last year people put his loss in the championship down to Hayden down to equipment failure, this may be correct. Maybe it also planted the seed in his (Rossi’s) mind that he is not infallible. It has also planted the seed in other racers mind that he can be beaten.
Full race results where:
1. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team
2. Colin Edwards USA Fiat Yamaha Team
3. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
4. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team
5. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
6. Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team
7. Alex Barros BRA Pramac d’Antin MotoGP
8. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team
9. Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d’Antin MotoGP
10. Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda
11. Anthony West AUS Kawasaki Racing Team
12. Toni Elias SPA Gresini Honda
13. Kurtis Roberts USA Team Roberts
14. Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda
15. Makoto Tamada JPN Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha
16. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha
17. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team
Stay tuned for my report on the next round…the Dutch TT next week
For fans of the Aussie racer Anthony West, good news has just come in that he will be riding for Team Kawasaki for the rest of the 2007 MotoGP season.
Ant tested with the team in Spain after the recent MotoGP round and obviously impressed all with his riding abilitites. Team Green seem to like Aussies, as Andrew Pitt rode for them a few years ago, so they obvioulsy see Asutralia as a great breeding ground for talent.
Westy has continually struggled for a fair go in the 250cc class despite some solid perfomances in the wet. He even recently raced in World Supersport and won the round at Silverstone, so it was always difficult for fans to understand why he was treated roughly in the 2500cc GP class. Anthony himself has said a number of times it is because he simply cannot bring the cash other riders can.
That is all behind him now as he replaces Olivier Jacque at Kawasaki.
Now all us Aussie fans want is to see an all Australian podium in 2007 and if all goes well and Ant gets to ride for Kawasaki in 2008 an all Aussie championship for 2008.
A late news update: In practice for this weekends MotoGP, Ant West has just clocked the 5th fastest time in Free Practice #2, out doing Casey Stoner and even Valentino Rossi. Stay tuned for my race report for the Donnigton round soon… Dave
In what undoubtedly will go down as one of this years great races, Casey Stoner (Ducati), deflected an incredible amount of pressure from the second best rider in the history of the sport – Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). Stoner now leads Rossi by 14 points in the championship race.
The record books will simply show, Stoner 1st place, Rossi 2nd but this will tell only a fraction of the story. The lead changed between the two racers and incredible 14 times. For anyone who might be bored with the F1 procession, I guarantee thrills aplenty if you start to follow MotoGP.
As I have said in previous articles, Stoner has matured incredibly this season. He was able to absorb the pressure tactics of Rossi continually throughout the race.
Dani Pedrosa lead from the race start, however it was clear early on that this would be a race between the cunning Italian and the super-fast Aussie. Stoner took the lead after the first lap and Pedrosa was delegated to third, behind Rossi not long after.
His 3rd place performance seemed better than it was. He never really put Stoner or Rossi under any real pressure, he seemed to be content in letting them scrap it out and maybe take each other out to hand him an easy win.
Stoner really shone. Last year he would have buckled under the pressure exuded by Rossi, but this year he was able to give back to Rossi as much as he was handed.
Last year he would have let Rossi pass and settle for a place, but in this race especially he attacked. This ability to attack has a lot to do with the improved machinery in 2007, but Casey has done a lot of hard work to get himself in this position.
With fewer than 5 laps to go Rossi made his move and blasted to the lead, but he was unable to shake Stoner who counter punched with 2 laps to go. In the end he beat his rival by 0.069 seconds. Watching the two of them trying to out brake each other was a joy to watch.
Chris Vermeulen again rued a poor qualifying performance. He began the race back in the pack but was able to salvage a 7th place. His team mate John Hopkins continued his consistent run this year with a solid fourth place. For Suzuki’s sake I really hope he sticks with them next year as they seem to be really gelling as a team (Hopkins/Vermeulen and Suzuki).
Kawasaki rider Randy De Puniet rode the race of his life to bring the normally luckless Team Green machine in 5th spot. De Puniet was still injured from an previous incident and his ride was testament to his toughness and ability. At the end of the race it was clear to spectators he was still in pain as he hobbled off the bike and limped back to the relative comfort of the pit garage.
Once again 2006 champion Nicky Hayden was relegated to outside the top 10, to come in 11th, in what is turning out to be a truly forgettable year.
So for all those naysayers who said the drop in engine capacity from 990cc to 800cc would result in boring races get a life, ‘cause if this is boring you must be dead! So what about the others…well here are the top 10 results
- 1st – Casey Stoner (Ducati)
- 2nd – Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
- 3rd – Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
- 4th – John Hopkins (Suzuki)
- 5th – Randy De Puniet (Kawasaki)
- 6th – Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
- 7th – Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)
- 8th – Alex Barros (Ducati)
- 9th – Marco Melandri (Honda)
10th – Colin Edwards (Yamaha)