Motorsport Thoughts

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Manuel Poggiali - a very modern enigma

'The Pogg' continues to confuse me.

Manuel Poggiali is a two-times World Champion. He burst onto the GP scene in 1999 in 125s and was reckless but fast. He got more consistent in 2000/2001 and won the 125 title in 2001 for Gilera despite a strong charge from his team-mate Youichi Ui and a good run from Toni Elias.

He narrowly failed to defend it in 2002, losing out to Arnaud Vincent who had a great year, but beat Dani Pedrosa for second so still had a strong season.

In 2003 Aprilia thought it was time for him to go up to 250s with their factory squad, and he took the title at the first attempt, a stellar performance as a rookie. He beat Roby Rolfo, Toni Elias, Randy de Puniet and Fonsi Nieto, who all won races that year. His riding was fantastic - fast, brave, consistent, could overtake, just wasn't overawed by anyone.

It all started to fall apart in 2004 though. He started the year well with a fourth at Jerez, but just one victory in Rio and a staggering nine no-scores, combined with a bizarre squash-court injury at Losail condemned him to just ninth in the standings, as Pedrosa and Porto fought out the title and those just behind Poggiali year earlier were now well ahead of him. A disastrous title defence and in fact the top privateers scored just as many points.

2005 it was back down to 125s to race on the Gilera again. This time Pogg was more consistent but never really with the leaders, only managing a best of fifth but scoring in all but two races to take 10th overall in a large and strong field. He was also well ahead of Derbi riders (i.e on the same bike) Pablo Nieto and Lukas Pesek, so it was a respectable season if not spectacular.

2006 he went back up to 250s with KTM which was something of a surprise, although they probably had to rush after sacking Talmacsi following his Qatar blunder. probably know how his season's been.

In detail, compared with Hiroshi Aoyama, it's been horrendous. Aoyama's outqualified him on every occasion this season, and by an average of eight places per race (in a 26/28 rider field). Aoyama's won two races and had five other podiums. Poggiali's best finish is 10th. Poggiali hasn't beaten Aoyama in a single race where they've both finished, and on average has been 45 seconds behind him per race by the end (about two seconds a lap, every lap, of the entire season). Aoyama has 193 points in fourth place in the championship, and Poggiali is 13th with 42. [incidentally, yes I am a big Hiro fan!]

I'm just staggered to be honest. I've seen Vincent and Loca struggle with the KTM in 125s, but that was when it was a new bike and they both really had problems and were as bad as each other. There are plenty of riders who are consistently outperformed by their teammates, these things happen. But I can't think of an instance like this. He's a twice World Champion, and not one from the past, in recent times!

I just don't get it. Not so much why he's not been sacked yet, because we all know he will be after the next race, but how he can be so off the pace so consistently.

You hardly ever see riders actually lose their talent - they lose their fitness (e.g Frankie Chili this year in WSB after his injuries), their confidence (Tamada 2005-6), their ability to set things up the way they like (whoever you want, maybe Porto this year), or their motivation (Porto again for one, anyone who retires).

Poggiali astonishes me because he's basically back with a lot of his old Gilera crew from 2001-2 who he had his best times with. Harold Bartol used to design the Derbi/Gilera before coming to do the KTM so there shouldn't be a problem with machinery or setup.

How can he be going so slow?!?


  • It is sad to see the plight of Pogialli... He was of the same mould that built Dani Pedrosa... A former 125 & 250 champ. He won the 250 after an epic all season battle with Elias! I just cant figure out what went wrong with him. He should've been in the Motogp grid along side Dani, Jorge & Stoner. Sad to see such a gr8 talent wasted!!

    By Blogger Visakh. A, at 1:54 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home