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Looks to be an exciting 2008, so discuss:
1. Who do you think will be rookie of the year?
I also think Dovizioso will be ROY. The kids plain fast and logistically speaking, while he doesn't have factory support, the 2007 evo212V is really fast... I mean, pass the Ducati on the straight fast. And it can turn, is silky smooth. The bike was made for 250 riders. But aside from that, the kid's got mad skills. I wouldn't be surprised if he puts one over on the other rooks.
2. Who do you think is the sleeper of the year?
Hmm, the sleeper of the year... I'd probably say Nicky Hayden. Why would I call him a sleeper? Because no one gives him a chance. You got people saying that Stoner is going to come back strong, maybe win it although without the huge margin; you have people saying Rossi will be strong; of course, you've got the paper King, Dani Pedrosa. Shoot, some people are already thinking Lorenzo is going to make a big splash and take some. So, quietly in the back drop, Honda stops thinking about Dani's suggestions for development and listens to Hayden. Hayden pops up and comes up big.
3. Who do you think will emerge out of the Yamaha garage?
Honestly, I think JT will emerge out of the Yamaha garage. He has a good support system and you can't knock a garage that's working together. With Edwards in there sharing information and helping the development, that can only be good. Whereas Lorenzo is an island in the FIAT garage. And who knows how well he can develop a bike?
4. Who do you think will be more flamboyant: Rossi, Lorenzo or...?
I agree, both are a little ghey. But Rossi is going to end up whining a lot more than winning. Lorenzo will get maybe 1-2 wins in the season and that'll be enough to see him jump on the box and do his schtick. That'll piss off Rossi and oh well...
5. Who do you think will emerge out of the Honda garage (not just Repsol)?
Dovizioso will emerge out of the Honda garage. He's Italian on a Honda. In the recent past, that was never a bad thing.
6. What do you think when Spies gets a wildcard ride in this 2008 group?
Does he lose all his stock if the field is super strong?
I think he does get a wildcard ride in 2008 with Zuk since Capirex is on a one year contract. That being said, I think this field is so strong Spies looks WORSE than if he had run a wild-card among the 07 field. By that, I mean his stock will drop a little because I don't think he'll be as competitive in a field this stacked. Have you ever seen a field this stacked?! Really...
7. How will the 08 212V do against the satellite evo212Vs? Is Honda worried?
I don't know about Honda, but I'm worried. I take a little bit of comfort knowing that Hayden set the second fastest time on the 08-212, only .3 seconds slower than the evo212. But throughout the tests, the 2008 has struggled to top the sheets, sort of like last year, and you know how that ended up. Meanwhile, rookies are tearing it up on the evo212. Shoot, even Randy deWreckingBall is going fast on the evo. I'd be worried and I think the 08-212 will come on after the fourth race or so, mark my words!
8. Rossi on Bridgestones: Did he just screw himself?
In a word, yes. Ducati/Kawasaki/Suzuki have been working with Bridgestone for years. There's an important principle of designing a bike around its tires. This can't bode well for the first year on the M1. I think Bridgestone works super hard to bring Rossi what he needs, but I don't see it helping Rossi regain the WC.
9. Casey with the bum shoulder, how long will he be out and will this affect his off-season training like it did Hayden?
I hope so. I don't like Stoner. Maybe it's because of that Aussie directness and a little bit of cockiness and smugness. I don't like riders who call out other riders (another reason I don't like Dani). That being said, I know he'll be fine in about 6 weeks or so. Torn ligaments in the shoulder heal quicker than broken bones, so to speak. But it's interesting to note that he tossed his bike twice in two days. That's a first. Maybe he's going back to his old self.
10. Where the freak is Melandri?! Did he just pull a Capirex?
I agree with you. Honda = smooth power; Ducati = violent power. Melandri has been said to be working with the electronics to help that. But I don't think he'll have the same problems as Capirossi. Capirossi likes the power even MORE violent than it was in 07. He likes the on-off nature of the bike. Ducati found some sort of middle ground that didn't suit Capirex, but suited Stoner just fine. But it doesn't bode well for him being so low in the time sheets.
"Itīs not easier to ride, but I donīt need something easier, I need something faster." - Nicky Hayden #69
Next Track Days (NESBA): September 10 - Summit (Main)