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GP Week : 06-May-2008
Slow corner causes big crash M oto GP news >> THE 250 and 125 classes are set to be limited to one rather than two bikes per rider from next year, after an informal poll of teams at Shanghai came out with a 60/40 split in favour of the restriction. This revives a system used for less than two full seasons some 10 years ago, but dropped because of sundry problems – including safety. Without a spare for qualifying, mechanics might be too rushed in making repairs to a bike damaged in a qualifying session … just 30 minutes long for the 125 class. Several minor teams at present only have one machine per rider, but even then they need enough spares to virtually build another, whether these parts are assembled or not. Sources close to teams’ association IRTA suggested that the change is likely to be bulldozed through on this narrow majority, in spite of strong arguments from those against. One such is former long-time Aprilia designer Jan Witteveen, now back in the paddock with the Maxtra 125 project. “IRTA say the restriction is on grounds of cost, but this is an illusion: the cost is not affected much,” the Dutch engineer said. “I believe there is a hidden agenda – they want to reduce the importance of the smaller classes still further to boost MotoGP; and more importantly they want to save space. I expect that it won’t be long before pit space is even more restricted than it is already for the smaller classes,” he said. “They do it under the umbrella of cost reduction, but this is not the real purpose.” Class restrictions to mean one bike JORGE Lorenzo’s first-session crash was “probably the biggest in my career,” according to the Mallorcan rider, who turned 21 on race day. But the cause was something of a mystery, because the impact not only injured the rider. It also destroyed the on-board data-gathering equipment. The crash also illustrated the paradox: that slow corners can be more dangerous than fast ones, in the case of a high-side crash. Thrown high into the air, a rider then falls almost vertically, with no horizontal speed component to ameliorate the slam with an element of sliding. Lorenzo’s crash came after a quick change of direction on one of the Shanghai track’s ultra- slow turns. As he turned the bike, the rear let go and the bike went quite sideways before gripping and projecting him straight upwards. With the throttle barely open, if at all, the electronics were in no position to save him. “The crash was big,” he said the next day. “I think I was actually quite lucky not to have worse injuries.” As it was, he rebroke a 2002 fracture to the top of the malleolo bone in the left ankle, and suffered “severe impact oedemas to the right heel, the astragalo bone and the tibia,” according to GP medic Dr Claudio Costa. special about coming together and taking a machine to its limit and a little bit beyond it at times. “I think there needs to be a reaching of an accord between manufacturers and promoters relative to where research and development finishes and where the entertainment factor and the relationship between a machine and a rider is maintained. There needs to be a compromise here, I think. You can’t have a situation where, as someone told me, you just wind it open and let the electronics do all the work. “That’s, well, a little frightening,” he said. For more on the Maxtra 125 project, check out our special feature in the next edition of GPWeek 15