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GP Week : Issue 12
GPWEEK OPINION >> MOTOGP has done well in recent years to reinforce the traditional GP series’ importance as the senior championship. 10 or more years ago, MotoGP saw off a growing threat from World Superbikes, where packed grids of recognisable silhouette sports bikes aroused far greater interest in many countries than the increasingly sterile 500 two-strokes. Then the position was greatly reinforced, when Superbike organisers fell out with the factories over technical rules. All but Ducati withdrew factory support from the production-based series. It seemed the issue was settled once and for all. Well, up to point. The factories crept straight back in to the popular Superbike series (how could they afford not to, since these were bikes just like those in the showroom), albeit by the back door, with dealer-run teams and the like. Now two more factories have declared support for Superbikes. MotoGP’s long courting of BMW has come to nothing (the German’s promises turning out to be worthless), and they are going Superbike racing next year. Likewise KTM, who are also promising a future SBK entry. At the same time, both KTM and Aprilia have been alienated from GP racing by proposals to drop 250 two-strokes in favour of 650 four-strokes. Both have declared they will not support the proposed change. And both have expensive failed MotoGP projects in their recent past. MotoGP promoters Dorna must be worried. Superbike has already proved that the factories can’t do without the series . MotoGP has no such hold over them. Yet factory support is utterly vital for survival of expensive prototype racing. To a racing purist, there is little comparison between Superbikes, based on street machines, and the ivory tower of specialised prototype GP racing. The lap times, however, have at times been vexingly close. And the appeal to the public likewise – a fact the marketing men of Honda et al can hardly fail to notice The future of GP racing, more than ever, is dependent on the whim of factories. At the whim of the factories Michael Scott MotoGP editor o p in io n 23