Part one of Crash.net's
half-term report for the 2010 MotoGP World Championship. Rider ranking is by championship position.
Part two will be available on Sunday.
What grade would you give each rider? Leave your comments below...
1. Jorge Lorenzo - Fiat Yamaha (210 points): A
Injured during the pre-season, Jorge Lorenzo has won six of the nine races so far and finished second in the other three. His amazing form means he leads the championship by a massive 72 points. His only fault worth mentioning (denying him an A*) was a self-confessed off-form race at Mugello, where he admitted the aftermath of Valentino Rossi's accident was playing on his mind.
2. Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda (138 points): B+
Pedrosa began the season free from injury for the first time since 2007, but had trouble getting comfortable on the new Ohlins-RC212V. Victory at Mugello could have been a springboard with which to attack Lorenzo, but he lost points to his fellow Spaniard at the next three rounds. A second win in Germany means Pedrosa stands a great chance of scoring three or more wins in a year for the first time ever in MotoGP, but his subsequent accident while leading at Laguna Seca means his title hopes are on the ropes.
3. Andrea Dovizioso - Repsol Honda (115 points): B+
He's riding for the same team as Pedrosa, but has 23 points less and no wins, so why has he got the same grade? Well, the grade is as much a reflection of his improvement relative to 2009. This time last year Dovi was seventh in the championship with 69 points, this year he's third with 115 points. He's also beaten Pedrosa fair and square in three races this year and is the only rider other than Lorenzo to finish every race.
4. Casey Stoner - Ducati Marlboro (103 points): B
If Casey Stoner had been told at the start of the year that he'd have less than half the points of the championship leader after nine rounds, and no wins, he wouldn't have been too amused. Falling from the lead at round one in Qatar, then suffering further front end falls, seemed to unsurprisingly knock the 20-time race winner's confidence and - although he's been on the podium at every race since his first 2010 rostrum at round six in Holland - he's yet to battle for victory and is enduring his longest win drought since joining Ducati in 2007. That said, Stoner tends to be especially strong in the end of season tracks and that win drought won't last much longer, surely?
5. Valentino Rossi – Fiat Yamaha (90 points): A-
What world champion Valentino Rossi has lacked in terms of track success this year, by his mighty standards, he's more than made up for in guts and determination, by returning to race action just six weeks after breaking his leg at Mugello - and taking a podium just one week after that at Laguna Seca. He's also had to overcome a shoulder injury, sustained after his round one victory in Qatar, and has taken three further podiums from his five race starts. We gave him an A-, rather than an A, simply because he was nine points behind Lorenzo at the time of his Mugello accident and also had a lower race finish (third) at that point.
6. Nicky Hayden – Ducati Marlboro (89 points): B-
Nicky Hayden is probably the biggest improver of the season, relative to 2010. The American was 13th with 46 points this time last year, but is sixth with 89 points entering the summer break. He's also out-qualified team-mate Stoner for the first time, and became one of the few Ducati riders to beat Stoner in a race. On the other hand, while his four fourth-places are good for points, Hayden will be the first to admit that you can't claim to have had a great year without podiums.
7. Ben Spies – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (77 points): B+
There have been difficult moments for reigning World Superbike champion Ben Spies during his first nine events as a full time MotoGP rider - such as two DNFs and being out-qualified by team-mate Colin Edwards 5 times to 4 - but Spies has shown flashes of brilliance and began the summer break as the leading satellite rider and leading rookie (with seventh in the championship). He is also the only non-factory rider, and only rookie, to take a podium finish so far this year.
8. Randy de Puniet – LCR Honda (69 points): B
Randy de Puniet is the only satellite rider to qualify on the front row of the MotoGP grid this season, and he did it three times in a row, out-qualifying the factory Honda riders in the process. Although unable to hold on for a podium on race day, the Frenchman was the top satellite rider at the time of his leg-breaking Sachsenring crash - holding fifth in the championship with a best race finish of fourth. His accident is obviously a major blow but de Puniet remains on course to comfortably beat his previous best end-of-season ranking of eleventh and is still 16 points clear of the next best satellite Honda rider.
9. Marco Melandri – San Carlo Honda Gresini (53 points): C+
Marco Melandri's Honda return began disastrously when he qualified 17th and last for round one in Qatar, then finished 13th and last in the race. Like Pedrosa, Melandri couldn't find a set-up he liked for the Ohlins suspension, but he and his team have turned the situation around - even swapping back to Showa suspension - and he's since taken two top six finishes for ninth in the championship. Grade bumped from a C to C+ for riding (to ninth place) just one week after dislocating his shoulder and damaging his sternum at Assen.
10. Marco Simoncelli – San Carlo Honda Gresini (49 points): B-
Even friend Valentino Rossi was worried about Marco Simoncelli's MotoGP hopes after the Italian suffered several big falls in pre-season testing, but he's regrouped to emerge as the best of the ex-250 rookies and is just four points behind Honda Gresini team-mate Melandri despite crashing out of two races. The recent crashes are a slight concern, but Simoncelli is starting to show consistent speed. Best race finish of sixth so far in Germany.