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GP Week : 01-Sep-2009
I reckon there are a few WRC team personnel who might be a bit surprised this weekend. Yes, Rally Australia is back, but the teams can forget everything they learnt during the 19 years of visiting Perth. Because while New South Wales might only be a couple of states across from Western Australia, Rally Australia's new home at Kingscliff is 3,638 kilomtres (give or take a couple) from Perth. And that's as the crow flies. If you moved the Monte Carlo rally that far it would be in the Republic of Bashokortastan in Russia. Honestly, that's not a joke. Look it up on Google Earth. Now, if you did move a rally from Monaco to Ufa (Bashkortostan's capital, for those of you playing at home), then you would expect it to be very different. That's something the teams will have to take into serious consideration. Your data from Perth is useless, because the roads will be remarkably different in Kingscliff. The other thing teams might have to get used to is public support. I'm in no way going to say the event will be a flop when it comes to public interest, because I don't want to sound like I'm a doom-and-gloom monger. Far from MOTOGP's irtation with America has been long and insistent, and has withstood several rebu s. From the start, as with so many other Old World-based sports, America just wasn't very interested. They had their own version, anyways. Back in the day, Europeans stuck to surfaced roads, hurtling round through forests and between stone walls and villages on their thundering Nortons and loping Moto-Guzzis. In the US, riders on Harleys and Indians competed mainly on dirt, often-times oval-track, but also "TT" (with jumps and twists), with just the odd road race thrown in. Like Daytona. It was there, at the Florida tri-oval, that the first attempts at a US GP were held. Mike Hailwood won both of them on the factory MV Agusta. In 1964 he defeated a field of other "funny foreigners", but in 1965 he was about the only European, a full two laps clear of second-placed American Buddy Parriott on a Norton. The GP wasn't even the most important race at Daytona. That was the 200-miler. It disappeared without trace. Back then, the US Grand National championship was heavily biased towards dirt-tracks. Over the next decade road-racing gained a little importance, but Kenny Roberts still needed to succeed on the dirt to win his pair of AMA Grand National titles in 1973 and 1974. Roberts then pioneered a dynasty of Grand Prix Americans. He came and conquered -- and was followed by a slew of dominant talent: Spencer (pictured right), Lawson, Mamola, Rainey, Schwantz. It lasted all the way through to the mid-1990s, right up at the front. Not even this golden age was enough to ignite the US GP, although not for want of trying. This time the venue was Laguna Seca, and it started off okay in 1988. It tottered on until 1994, with a Long way from Stars, stripes and the MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor opinion Letters email us at email@example.com Lose Spa at your peril! I notice over the weekend that there is a suggestion that the Spa F1 race could end up 'twinning' with the German GP to be run every second year. And apparently, that is because of the huge LOSS the circuit has in running its GP every year. If that is allowed to happen, then it will be the clearest sign that Formula 1's managers still have NOT read the public mood. That they stillhave NOT gured out that there is a place for sentiment and history and sheer beauty in Grand Prix racing. If Spa has run at a $3m loss as is reported, then, you money-grabbers, reduce Spa's fee by $3m. There are some things more important, long term, than short term bucks. The semi-demise of Spa will no doubt be countered by the addition of a race in Kazachstan, or Sri Lanka, or some other massively traditional motorsporting country (sic). After all, it now seems our world championship is to start AND nish in the Middle East. How typical. Accepting less $ short term to retain Spa will bring longer term bene ts to F1. Listen, and listen good F1: Spa goes. I (and i suspect many other worldwide fans) go too. Could it be any clearer.? Daniel LeBreton Mans eld, UK Sign now Jenson before it's too late Is Jenson Button's suggestion that he has other options for 2010 anything other than the usual professional sportsman's ham- sted e orts to up the ante with his current employer? It was interesting to see, following Editor Buxton's story last week about Brawn's nances for 2010 and beyond, that the team came out within days to say it has plenty of backing, for next year, the year after, and the year after (Nick Fry must be a GPWeek reader, Buxton!). That suggests the team is well-funded, and that they could a gord any one of a number of drivers who are probably on the phone right now. Take the deal while it's going, Jenson. Drivers are, to a degree, dispensible; a good car isn't! Alison Debere Durban, South Africa Give Casey a fair chance Supporting your other reader's letter, last week: Ducati needs to give Casey Stoner the few weeks he needs to recover. 2009 is over -- it's all about 2010 now. Alan Simpson Broadbeach, (Bribane, Australia) ANDREW VAN LEEUWEN Australian Editor opinion 20