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Toby Moody

Why Simoncelli must keep delivering now
Following Marco Simoncelli's first podium finish in Brno, the Italian has the chance to build up some momentum. And if he is to break into MotoGP's elite group he must seize the opportunity now, says Toby Moody

A bit of Marco magic

Marco Simoncelli is either the good guy or the bad guy. It all depends on which side of the fence you take on May’s Le Mans Pedrosa incident. But at Brno he finally turned it around with regard to results and got his first MotoGP podium, grinning like he'd won the lottery from underneath that trademark Hungarian Puli hair.

I have to admit I was not a worshipper of Marco through the ranks of 125 and 250, even though he was a champion in the middle class, nor in his first half-year on a MotoGP bike last season.

Although I may not think he's a MotoGP world champion in the making yet, he's certainly captured the hearts of many a fan.

Fans don't have to like record breakers or those who crush the opposition into the ground; rather they go for heroes who they’d actually want to be in the next life. My two-stroke GP racing hero was Luca Cadalora because I saw him as a mercurial Italian who was fast, cool, had a pretty girl on his arm, smoked cigarettes in the garage before qualifying, had a super-infectious laugh, didn't take himself too seriously, but had a couple of trophies on the shelf to show that he was quick and had once been the best in the world.

Marco Simoncelli celebrates his first MotoGP podium
Marco Simoncelli celebrates his first MotoGP podium ©

Simoncelli has done the first bit of being a MotoGP hero for some fans, but now he really has got to knuckle down and show that he has the speed as well as presence of mind to methodically work through things. Not to be a hothead who crashes to the extent that he's only six points ahead of his underpowered team-mate.

Getting the monkey off your back is an oft-used expression, but it now really does mean that #58 has turned a corner.

I sincerely hope he went out and got smashed, as that part of his life has now been done. He's got to move on to getting ultra-fit and ultra-competitive to try and break into the premier league of MotoGP riders.

The trouble is that, while you're racing Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, there's an awful lot of talent you have to outqualify and then stay ahead of for 40 minutes in order to win a race.

Who said MotoGP was easy though?

Prototypes or restricted racers?

Racing is obviously a passion for anyone reading this website. Speed, noise, popping and banging on overrun, innovative engineering, wheel-to-wheel battles and close finishes are our addiction.

MotoGP has had its innovative engineering with the Honda V5, and its closest races with Estoril 2006 and Catalunya 2009. It's had its noise and its pops and bangs. But what has remained in MotoGP even through boring race times has been fresh prototype engineering. This was the cry of the old school when the rules for Moto2 were announced in 2009; how could it be a proper GP class when all the engines, tyres, fuel and electronics would be the same?

At the time I said that it didn't matter that those parts were the same, because the chassis would be different and it would ensure that it wasn't silly money that got you on the grand prix grid. What was important was that the racing would be close and exciting, thrilling the fans – something that has happened.

Toni Elias ran away with the first year of Moto2, just as the Honda V5 ran away with the first year of MotoGP. Like Rossi on the V5, he was the most-experienced rider on the bike that probably had the largest budget (a Honda one), even though it was a Moriwaki. It was no surprise he won.

But, as the disarray of the initial year of a rule-change fades, so the others catch up.

With eight different chassis manufacturers in the Moto2 class this year, and grids being covered by two and a bit seconds for the top 30, Brno encapsulated the fact that non-purist prototype racing can be a way forward.

Andrea Iannone won an action-packed Moto2 race at Brno
Andrea Iannone won an action-packed Moto2 race at Brno ©

The Brno Moto2 race will go down in the annals as a cracker, with three chassis in the top four covered by less than 0.9 seconds.

And hey… after the MotoGP race there was the second Red Bull Rookies race of the weekend with, get this, the top 11 over the line within 1.047s. You did read that right! But what you must remember is that the Red Bull Rookies is an even-more-controlled class, with everyone on exactly the same kit.

Here is the dilemma: we love prototype racing but we love close racing too. MotoGP at Brno was not a thriller, but all the others were, and they were classes that are restricted in some way. No kneejerk reaction, but let's see how the remainder of the season pans out while the last seven races of the 800cc formula are ticked off.

800cc is dead soon. Let's hope we hail the great 1000s next year.

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