The MotoGP World Championship had a lot of compelling storylines going into the 2011 season. Valentino Rossi joining Ducati for an Italian match made in heaven. Jorge Lorenzo defending his title and escaping from Rossi’s shadow. Casey Stoner dominating the pre-season tests after rejoining Honda. The final year for the 800cc machines before the switch to the 1000cc displacement.
After seven rounds however, the biggest story in MotoGP has come from an unexpected source: Marco Simoncelli. With his aggressive style, undeniable ability and out-of-this-world hair, Simoncelli has been a lightning rod for criticism this season. But doesn’t every good story need a villain?
The former 250cc World Champion and MotoGP sophomore has shown plenty of potential, qualifying in pole position twice and starting on the front row six times in seven rounds. It’s when the race starts that the problems begin.
A collision with Dani Pedrosa at Le Mans broke the Spaniard’s collarbone. Simoncelli first rejected blame for the crash but after a meeting with Race Direction, suddenly became humbled, acknowledging he may have been in the wrong.
“Overall on reflection I have realized where I have gone wrong and in the future I will try at certain times to evaluate the situation better and be a little more cautious,” Simoncelli said after the meeting.
Then came the first lap of this past weekend’s Assen round, and an aggressive Simoncelli on cold tires took out another top contender, this time Jorge Lorenzo. Fortunately, both riders were able to remount and continue the race and Lorenzo was able to finish in sixth place. Unfortunately, because of Casey Stoner’s second-place finish, Lorenzo’s deficit in the points standings has grown to 28 points.
“I thought he learned from the past, from the controversy he created, like what happened with Dani (Pedrosa), but it’s clear that he doesn’t learn at the moment. I hope he learns in the future but at this moment I don’t have any respect for him because he is causing a risk to all the riders.”
There’s no denying Simoncelli’s talent, but can he put it together? Or does Super Sic’s aggression add some much needed drama to MotoGP?