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GP Week : Issue 54
>>GPWEEKOPINION decision to pick the two drivers they did for 2009 would look even sillier. But in plumping for Alguersuari, they risk killing his confidence and his career. I hope I’m proved wrong. I hope that he uses the next half a season to learn about the car and the sport. In an era when in-season testing is banned, it’s the only practice he could hope to get anyway. It’s the same story at Renault. Is Flavio really going to replace Piquet with Grosjean and use what remains of the season to bed in the Frenchman before a proper assault on F1 in 2010? Perhaps this whole thing is due to impatience. Perhaps it is due to commercial considerations. And perhaps it is all due to this damned silly testing regulation that with history the quiet countryside outside Chemnitz. Which is ironic, given the brutal modernism of the ultra- short modern course. Here history collides with the future: modern slow-corner racing in safety versus high-speed and high-risk old-time religion. There is another strain of history in the Sachsenring air. It was near here, at the old MZ factory, that engineering genius Walter Kaaden unlocked the performance secrets of the two-stroke engine, giving rise to a generation of two-stroke superiority. And another collision of history. Under Dorna and in league with the Japanese manufacturers, motorcycle GP racing is currently engaged in killing off two-strokes. Moto2 will be the death blow to the current 250 two-strokes at the end of this season. It leaves only the 125 class, and in the longer term that too is threatened by a potential four-stroke replacement. Doubtless Kaaden is spinning in his grave at this deliberate assassination of an engine type that has fallen from fashion. Yet there are many who still believe that the two-stroke – compact, light, simple, increasingly efficient – has a role in our automotive future. One such is former GP racer Martin Wimmer, who heads a group which has purchased the assets of the old MZ (and more recently MuZ) company. Wimmer is currently engaged in restarting production of commuter bikes using a proprietary four-stroke engine. But among his longer-term plans is a further evolution of the two-stroke engine, incorporating novel porting ideas of his own. How elegant it would be if he is successful in this enterprise, and the machine that introduces a third generation of two-stroke, should bear the initials MZ. In the meantime, as always, the 250s will leave a special whiff in the air as they run their last ever race at the Sachsenring, so close to their ancestral home. I hope the ghosts of Kaaden, and all his fellows of the heroic old MZ race team, enjoy the smell. 23 denies young drivers the opportunity to have a crack at F1 and get up to speed before being placed slap bang in the middle of the bare-knuckle boxing fight that is this sport. Whatever the case, and whatever the outcome of the next few weeks for these young drivers, I wish them luck. Because they’re going to need it.