Two weeks ago, a wind gust toppled a concert stage at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. That resulted in the cancelation of the Indy Mile flat track race, and ratified my decision not to go to the MotoGP race. For me, that weekend is a great racing event, with some bonus racing at a nearby track during the day before and after the Main event.
But, I kept an eye on Indy from afar. If Valentino Rossi's ever had a more dismal qualifying, I can't bring it to mind. Rossi and Ducati's struggles this season have almost made Corse's MotoGP effort an exercise in anti-marketing. Surely people must be thinking, "If Jeremy Burgess can't make that thing rideable, and if even Valentino Rossi can't be competitive on it, it must be a real turd."
So far, it doesn't seem to have had a negative impact on Ducati sales, but you have to wonder where they'd be without the as-far-from-MotoGP-as-you-can-get Multistrada model.
In some ways, it's been interesting to watch the process of Rossi's devolution to 'human' status. That was underlined when he qualified six positions behind Nicky Hayden. (For the first time in a few races, they were on what appeared to be functionally identical bikes.)
On Saturday afternoon, Rossi's near-last grid position prompted Matthew Birt to post this brief story on the heavily trafficked UK website associated with the weekly MCN newspaper. [Full disclosure: I'm also a contributor to MCN from time to time. -- MG]
If you don't live in Europe, you may not realize that MCN is probably the most influential (not necessarily accurate, just influential) English-language motorcycle industry news source. It's closely read by everyone in the business.
Within a few minutes of Matthew Birt's story going up -- and it should be noted that Birt merely reported Rossi's rough qualifying session, quoting Rossi extensively; he didn't criticize Rossi's performance at all -- this comment was appended to MCN's post...
I quickly scanned it, thinking it was evidence of Rossi's falling from fan favor, then I did a double-take on the user name. Elbowz11?? Was that really Ben Spies?
I clicked on the Elbowz11 hyperlink only to find this...
Holy crap, eh?.. I have no real way of knowing whether MCN user Elbowz11 is really Spies or just some spotty fanboy. [Actually, I probably could just email friends on the MCN staff and confirm it, but rumors are so much more fun that facts. -- MG]
But, I assume that this really did come from Spies. The nature of the post suggests it; a terse message shortly after qualifying, still in the heat of battle, delivered via smartphone without much punctuation or second thought.
That a class rookie -- even one as talented as Spies, who was forged in the crucible of the Yosh team with Mat Mladin as 'mentor' -- would openly, publicly diss Valentino Rossi...
It shows how human the once-alien Rossi has become.