- Casey Stoner Honda 1:59.66
- Dani Pedrosa Honda 1:59.80
- Marco Simoncelli Honda 2:00.16
- Andrea Dovizioso Honda 2:00.54
- Ben Spies Yamaha 2:00.67
- Colin Edwards Yamaha 2:00.96
- Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:01.00
- Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 2:01.19
- Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 2:01.32
- Hector Barbera Ducati 2:01.34
- Valentino Rossi Ducati 2:01.46
- Nicky Hayden Ducati 2:01.46
- Loris Capirossi Ducati 2:01.49
While there’s no denying that the road _to_ a MotoGP seat is still very, very difficult and everyone is scary fast, these results make me suspect, again, that the machines are fitted with too many rider aids, which reduce the significance of the rider in the overall equation.
At the Indy show, I heard Chris Van Andel of Motion Pro mention that one Superbike team had requested a special, extra-large spool for their Revolver adjustable throttle, with a diameter that would result in about a 1/8th turn throttle. “I can't imagine controlling a bike with such a quick throttle,” he mused. Someone else noted, “I guess they're just letting the traction control do all the work.”
I miss the days when lap times depended most on a single component: the nut connecting the handlebars to the seat. I hope these results don't mean that if you’re fast enough to get to MotoGP, once you’re there you’re only as fast as your machine and there’s little you can do about it. If it really turns out that rider input variations are less than the deviation between ‘brands,’ that will be bad for MotoGP.
Of course, over the course of a season or contract, a brilliant rider might be able to make such a contribution to his bike's ongoing development that he could shift the balance of power. Let’s see, for example, if Lorenzo or Spies has the quality of input that will allow Yamaha to keep winning. Or if Rossi can raise Ducati’s game. But even that doesn’t redound to the specific development rider as much as to the team as a whole.
I'll stop saying traction control's gone too far eventually, I suppose. But it's clearly 'better' than the best riders now. I'm not saying MotoGP's easy or that I could do it, because I know I can't. But how long will it be before ABS or even computerized lean control provide superhuman braking and turn-in?
At that point, we can all turn off.