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GP Week : Issue 63
GPWEEK OPINION >> sought his opinion. Connelly spoke about the crowds which had bought tickets to watch the event, in far greater numbers than the organisers had ever imagined or hoped for, and then some. He had flown over the route and found whole extra categories of happy spectators they had never taken into account, like the numbers of roadside onlookers and countless house parties alongside the stages. He spoke about the voluntary route changes after discovering local issues which had not been known about, and the extensive and laborious work to protect the wild life. In fact the organisers felt they had been able to answer all the complaints except protesters' attempts at sabotage. There was an almost dangerous lack of responsibility in the local media coverage. Reports of the stoning of rally cars were widespread. I have seen cars which have been stoned in places like Kenya and South America, but I never saw evidence of stone damage in Australia. What I did see was wanton damage to property caused by the protesters who painted roads and road signs, which the communities must pay to be cleaned up. These told more than any number of protesters' placards, but I did not see much about this vandalism in the newspapers. And I saw much less attention paid to stories of the splendid time enjoyed by the visitors and local people because the rally had come to them. The lasting impression was that the protesters were winning the day. They had ambushed not only the rally but the local media as well. The sadness was that the folk in a delightful and welcoming country were themselves being hijacked by their own people who were ill-advised, gullible and distasteful of anyone who was in the area for pleasure. Visitors had come to enjoy the country, not to find a country at war with itself. I do not think the protesters let Australia down; I think their media did, and the FIA sat back and did not help. If the rally moves elsewhere in future, local people who wonder why the rally did not return will know who to blame. but of the past. Of the days of the garagiste, when a whole racing industry was born around sundry chassis designers and manufacturers to building their own cars with a more-or-less standard engine. The redoubtable Cosworth DFV V8. As IRTA chief Mike Trimby says, elsewhere in this issue: "MotoGP needs a Cosworth engine." Trimby also sounds a warning: although the MSMA has proposed to lease prototype 800cc engines to would-be chassis builders from 2011, it remains only a proposal. The original proposal, to open MotoGP to a second tier of production-based 1000cc engines, is still on the table. Until a decision is made (probably not this year) it retains equal status. The class they are trying hard not to call 'Moto-1' has not gone away. Word in the paddock is that lease engines will save only about 40 percent of the US $1.2- million odd cost of leasing a whole motorcycle. This may not be enough to sway the jury. Particularly with the apparent success of next year's 250- replacement Moto2. It has drawn a host of chassis specialists out of the shadows of national racing back into the grand prix mainstream. While MotoGP totters with the lowest grid numbers since the early 1990s and the 250s wither on the vine, it looks as though IRTA will be turning Moto2 entries away. There are some shreds of hope for prototype-only purists: the announcement of the privateer Italian triple (see news story) from FB Corse is a fresh shoot, and a pure prototype. At the same time, in France another group is trying to revive and update the Ilmor V4 motor, with a Suter-built chassis. Wish them well, and MotoGP may be reach the garagiste stage without the help of a Cosworth engine. testers, let down Rally Oz 21