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GP Week : Issue 45
>>GPWEEKOPINION er be a secondary consideration and those in the second half of the pack get the worst of it. Monza’s extra twist is a track layout that then allows crashing bikes to come through from behind and take out front-runners on the exit. Much of this could be avoided if the start-line was placed elsewhere – before the final Parabolica curve, for instance, to give everyone a chance to sort themselves out a bit. Even then, the corner remains a problem. As does the sheer corner speed. Safety has improved enormously in the past decade, most especially in MotoGP. One reason has been higher safety standards for circuits. Monza, for example. The scenic and atmospheric classic motor racing venue hasn’t seen a GP motorcycle race since 1987. Other classic tracks have been dropped or emasculated: most especially Assen. Now only Phillip Island and Brno remain as seriously fast old-fashioned circuits. Probably on Rallies aren’t worth the bullet!” The sense of relief was incredible ... Never bother to check the weather forecast on an island. Whatever is predicted won’t happen. This provides nightmares for rally drivers trying to choose the correct tyres. It is an extraordinary bias that the IRC included two Portuguese island events in their 2009 calendar, but whether you go to Azores or Madeira the enjoyment is equal but not at all the same. Madeira has a magical variation of climates as you climb up the mountains, broad asphalt roads begging to be driven flat- out. Azores boasts myriads of narrow gravel tracks within high banks and, in some areas, has a sulphur odour from its underground rumblings. Azores and Madeira have delightful stretches of road edged by flowers, especially rhododendrons. I was appalled one year to learn that photographers in borrowed time. Fast corners are going out of fashion, sadly, but it’s a price paid to enhance the chances of human survival. The Superbike series is much less fussy. Hence visits to tracks that MotoGP won’t touch, including until last year Silverstone and Brands Hatch. With the advent of four-stroke Moto2 next year, MotoGP’s general formula draws ever closer to the production-bike series in character, sound and even engine provenance. Some see the challenge of the vigorous Superbike series, well-supported by not just the usual five manufacturers (Japan Inc plus Ducati) but also BMW and Aprilia, as a growing problem to the shrinking and increasingly sterile MotoGP package. As long as it accepts second best in circuit safety, however, even if Rossi does pop over there to finish his career, Superbike will remain a second-best series. Madeira reported that the flowers were not there – a local had thought they were unsightly weeds. Flying to the islands in the mid Atlantic is an emotional experience – passengers frequently clap when they land safely on the Portuguese islands. Arrival represents victory over the elements. Islands give you a magical emotion. Just standing at the ceremonial start of the rally in Sardinia at Porto Cervo gives you the feeling of being a millionaire, overcoming all the aggravation and inconvenience of getting there. You pretend that the Learjet parked at Olbia airport is yours. Insufficient thought is given to island rallies. It is disappointing when island rally organisers do not choose routes which border the coastline, or locate parcs fermes so as not to show the seas behind. When the organisers of Rally New Zealand finally agreed to promote their spectacular Whaanga Coast stage, the international promotion of the event soared. The proximity of the sea is the signature of the island events. And showing off a country to best advantage is one of the most 23 important opportunities that is given to rallying – the start beneath the Parthenon at the Acropolis, the old parcs fermes in the ancient cities during the Sanremo Rally, the Monte Carlo prizegiving outside the Palace. And the excitement of watching the ferries unloading their cargo of rally cars and service trucks ready for the next island rally. These are essentials elements of the magic of rallying … Loix flies at the Azores IRC