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GP Week : Issue 10
GPWEEK OPINION >> THE sentence of death on 250 two-strokes has been suspended so often and for so long that some faint hope of a reprieve lingered even last weekend in Shanghai. But the process of replacement is under way and unstoppable. The decision is final. Finally. Or is it? Dorna’s big question is just what to replace them with. They need to be four-stroke, faster than 125 two-strokes, but cheaper than MotoGP prototypes. Oh, and any attempt to use production engines will be sternly resisted by World Superbikes. Which rather restricts the options. But why, as a GP Week reader asked a few issues ago, are they being replaced? It’s for reasons of fashion; the consequence of (especially Honda’s) dislike of two-strokes, and because the class has withered on the vine in national championships all over the world. But there is another element … one involving political power games inside racing, and a perverse desire to punish success. As the Japanese withdrew over recent years, Aprilia had the class pretty much to itself. When saved from financial ruin by the giant Piaggio group, Aprilia’s costly MotoGP project was canned, but 250 and 125 supply was continued as a handy profit line. What really narked racing authorities was Aprilia’s consequent power. By controlling supply of the best bits, Aprilia could more or less decide who would win the 250 championship. And it could name its price. In spite of repeated entreaties from Dorna and IRTA, the cost of the best Aprilias kept on rising. Dropping two-strokes may be an extreme way of punishing a single factory for getting too big for its boots, but even if it vwas only part of the reasoning, it’s scandalous. Particularly since, in the interim, KTM has joined 250s to provide serious opposition; while the new Chinese Maxtra project mainly rejected 250s for 125s because of its uncertain future. The Aprilia problem would have solved itself, if it had just been left alone. In trying to solve it, however, Dorna, IRTA and the manufacturers’ association have painted themselves into a difficult corner. So difficult that it’s still not beyond the realms of imagination that 250s might not yet somehow survive, if only by default. The current two-strokes may prove to be the only bikes that make any sense in terms of cost, performance and relevance. Should the bike authorities have let the market decide? Michael Scott MotoGP editor o p in io n Rosberg, which was not very pleasing for my friend Keke … but anyway, it is possible and hopefully Formula One will experience that in the future.” Personally I think having a female driver in F1 would be a huge boost for the sport. The threat of being beaten by a girl, to a bunch of boys who have only ever had to fight it out amongst themselves would be one hell of an incentive to find that extra tenth. But as the learned men of F1 said, it’s got to be for the right reasons and they’ve got to be able to get the job done. Danica’s quick, of that there’s no doubt. But on knocking over a member of a rival team crew at Indy over the weekend, she was reportedly found in floods of tears, unable to forgive herself for what she had, through no fault of her own, done. Transfer that over to F1 last year, and Kazuki Nakajima’s F1 race debut in Brazil. At his first pitstop he knocked over half his team. Then he went out and set his fastest laps of the race, never once radioing to ask how his crew were until the chequered flag had fallen. Rumour has it, it’s one of the reasons Sir Frank knew he was the right man for the job. 21