2007 MotoGP Season In Review

Well, let’s describe it in one word. What’s the word?

Oh, right. “Yawner” I think would be the word.
This, the first season of the 800cc era of MotoGP, could have been a doozy. In theory, the playing field was leveled. Everybody was starting from scratch. We could have had a knock-down drag-out title fight between five or six contenders. In the early going, it seemed like we might have that. Then after about the fourth or fifth race you had to more or less pitch that one, as one man ran away with it all.

First, you have to give complete credit to Casey Stoner, Ducati Corse, and Bridgestone for putting together the perfect package this year. Together they ran roughshod over the MotoGP field like no one since one Valentino Rossi climbed off of a Honda RC211V for the last time.

But compared to last season, with a few exceptions (the first two races being a good example) there was just not much fun in watching these races. Last year, there were several men winning races. Nicky Hayden lifted the title more out of consistency rather than domination. And even that was a nail-biter, thanks to one Pedrosa torpedoing in Estoril.

This year, in the beginning it looked as though while the Ducati had a serious advantage in straight-line speed, it was within the power of a superior rider such as Rossi to at least keep Stoner on the Ducati honest. As the season went on, though, that concept seemed to go into the toilet as the Bridgestone tires went on to not only topple the Michelin dominance of years past, but topple it, grind it into ashes, and stomp on it for good measure.

Again, give Casey Stoner credit. The Ducati itself was not a world-beater. Stoner’s teammate, Loris Capirossi, might have won the championship last year if not for an inconvenient accident of his own, not his fault, that took him out for three crucial weeks. Capirossi is a fantastic rider. Yet he was able to score one lone win, two second places, and one third place all year, finishing the season seventh in the points, while watching his teammate dominate race after race after race. Clearly the Ducati is not a dominant motorcycle without the perfect match to its rider. And Ducati Corse found that in Casey Stoner, their third choice after Nicky Hayden and John Hopkins turned down the Ducati ride last year. (Wonder if those boys were kicking themselves this year, huh?)

Bravo to Ducati for taking a chance on Stoner, who in 2006 was clearly consistently fast but was also clearly consistently throwing motorcycles down the road. Here are Stoner’s finishes in 2006. Keep in mind almost all of the DNF’s were crashes rather than mechanical failures, and the one DNS was because he was injured in a crash during practice.

Casey Stoner 2006

6th, 5th, 2nd, 5th, 4th, DNF, DNF, 4th, 4th, DNS, DNF, 6th, 8th, 6th, DNF, DNF, DNF.

And to give you an idea of how the race for the championship went last year, here’s last year’s champion and runner-up position breakdown.

Nicky Hayden (2006 champion)
3, 2, 3, 2, 5, 3, 2, 1, 7, 3, 1, 9, 4, 5, 5, DNF (Estoril, see above), 3

Valentino Rossi (2006 runner-up)

14 (Crashed by Elias and re-mounted), 1, 4, DNF, DNF, 1, 1, 8, 2, 1, DNF, 2, 1, 3, 2, 2, 13 (crashed and re-mounted)

Valentino Rossi’s late season charge combined with Hayden’s crash in Estoril gave Rossi a slight lead going into the final race, where he crashed out under pressure, far enough behind Hayden that Hayden would have won on points anyway. All in all, though, an exciting season with races won by several different riders, and several others challenging for wins.

Now looking at the 2007 finishes:
Casey Stoner (2007 champion)

1, 5, 1, 1, 3, 4, 1, 1, 2, 5, 1, 1, 1, 3, 6, 1, 1, 2

Dani Pedrosa (2007 runner-up)

3, 2, DNF, 4, 4, 2, 3, 8, 4, 1, 5, 4, DNF, 2, DNF, 4, 3, 1

Valentino Rossi (3rd place)

2, 1, 10, 2, 6, 1, 2, 4, 1, DNF, 4, 7, DNF, 1, 13, 3, 5, DNF

It’s the Casey Stoner Show, with your host, Casey Stoner!

Great if you’re Casey, a member of the Ducati team, or a die-hard fan of one of them. Bad for everybody else who just wants to see good racing. Few other racers even competed for a win, much less actually won races.
The good news is that several teams seemed to come on strong late in the season, including the Hondas and the Suzukis, so there’s hope that we’ll have some good racing again next year. And now that Michelin has had its face rubbed in the dirt, perhaps they can come out fighting and even the tire war again. (The rule change to allow more tires per team should help.)

But all in all, the last time MotoGP was this boring it was 2003 and Valentino Rossi was just as embarrassingly dominant. Compared to the last few seasons, this has been one to forget. Hopefully next year will bring some closer racing to GP fans. Especially since I finally have tickets to go see a race live and up close!

Keep the rubber side down, GP fans, and see you next year.

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8 Responses

  1. Stumbled on your site via OEN. Being a MASSIVE motogp freak couldn’t help but comment on this post!! We Australians are so bloody thrilled to have a champ, hey, it’s been a while since Doohan was doing his thing. But you know what? He’s got a new rollercoaster at one of the major theme parks on the Gold Coast, it’s basically a rollercoaster with motorbikes- looks quite fun, can’t wait to try it out.
    I reckon Australians felt the same way about Stoner this year as Americans felt about Hayden beating Rossi last year. But it’s really tough, you know, cos I am the HUGEST Rossi fan on the face of the earth, have been since his 125 days, and it had pained me to see him lose the last couple of years, but yes, I agree that it does make for a much more interesting championship. Sorry, just wanted to blather on about bikes, love em.
    Goodnight from the Gold Coast, Australia.
    Ellie

  2. Hey Ellie,

    Next time, at least leave a few other guys wins in their home GP’s!

    Congrats to your Stoner fan friends. I can’t blame Casey for the racing being boring…it’s his job to get out there and kick some ass, and he did so. And it really WAS good to see him keeping the bike on two wheels. He was an exciting rider last year; it was good to see him live up to the potential this season.

    I’m a Rossi fan myself, and I have a Nastro Azzuro Honda hat to prove it. Rossi will come back, you know it. I just wish he didn’t take that whole step of publicly whining about his tires. Oh well.

    Enjoy the racing!

    TB

  3. Rossi made his debut with Bridgestone today at the Jerez circuit in Spain and even achieved a best time! I dont think michelin will be over excited!

  4. Yep, Stoner 1:40.221, Pedrosa 1:40.355, Rossi 1:40.514. It’s on for ’08. 😀

  5. Hey to all the folks from ZX-10R.net – thanks for reading, especially to the one dude who said this comment was spot on. 😉

    Keep the rubber side down!

  6. […] round of the MotoGP World Championship in Qatar on his Marlboro Ducati, much the same as he did the entire championship last year.   Dani Pedrosa made a stunning holeshot, moving to first from the third freakin’ row, and […]

  7. […] in all there are more stories to note at the end of this season than there were at the end of the last one.  2007, the first year of the 800cc era, started with a bang but ended with a resounding yawn.  […]

  8. Valentino rossi is my hero

    Mine too!

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