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GP Week : Issue 55
>>GPWEEKOPINION motorsport wasn’t considered bad. Alice took the best lap of the day, too. Watch out for her... she’s nifty! It had been a really great day and a chance to meet a lot of young, hungry and enthusiastic British racing drivers. We joked that the music they were playing over the speakers was older than most of the competitors... and it was. Alice was born in 1993! We said our goodbyes after meeting some new friends and made our way back to our homes. My phone rang and it was Karun. He asked if I’d seen the news. I had literally only just heard myself. Small snippets were filtering through from Brands Hatch about an accident involving Henry Surtees (right). And it wasn’t looking good. I can’t say I knew Henry well. I met him only once in passing when I went to interview his father in the Silverstone paddock last season at a BTCC race, when Henry was racing in Formula Renault. But from everything I’ve heard about him, he seemed like a genuinely lovely guy. Having spent the day with so many talented and hopeful young drivers, Henry’s death really hit home. We often forget that little warning on the back of our paddock passes... the one that says “Motorsport is Dangerous.” We overlook the duality of the sport and that for all of the beauty and wonder it often creates, it can also be so indiscriminately savage. Henry was only 18 years of age and was well known to a number of the racers I’d spent Sunday with. His loss is sure to hit them and his rivals in the still-young F2 series hard. It is, however, perhaps in Mario Andretti’s famous words following the death of his team-mate Ronnie Peterson that they may find solace: “Unfortunately, motor racing is also this.” ve therace? racing. But recent experience (especially the way Moto-2 was forced into existence, and the MotoGP mono-tyre rule) means that people are obliged to take it seriously. Even dedicated purists. Not because it is what Dorna actually wants to happen, but because it is a negotiating ploy that might just backfire. It was the same with the single tyre rule, which came into being over the course of a couple of years. It began when Rossi demanded Bridgestones for 2008, to be on equal terms with Stoner. Bridgestone declined: Dorna’s Ezpeleta stepped in, insisting that Bridgestone do as it was told, or he would impose a single tyre rule forthwith. The implication was that Michelin would be favourite for the contract. Threatening Moto-1 is a similar ruse. The manufacturers are being told to do something about the restricted supply of Does MotoGP need a low-cost, cheap-spec grid-filler? F1 said no to a similar concept ... MotoGP machines, or face a devaluation of the whole championship. It will probably work. Ezpeleta revealed to GPWeek that the manufacturers, in the guise of their MSMA association, had responded immediately with a different idea of their own: to lease engines rather than complete motorcycles to teams. The cost of a lease Honda starts at about 1.8- million Euros. But what if we do end up with production- based engines in the premier class. It would at least show to what extent racing has served its purpose in developing street motorcycles. If a production engine can be considered good enough for premier-class GP racing, that’s a major tribute to the quality and performance of those engines. It affirms the old dictum: Racing improves the breed. It also turns it upside down and brings it to a standstill. Breeding, it seems, is now relied upon to improve the race. 2