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GP Week : Issue 64
he continues this year as a very strong contender for best-of-the-rest. It includes five second places, and six times in third. But Colin has yet to win a GP, after 115 starts. He did come agonizingly close once, but seized defeat from the very doors of victory, when he crashed out on the last corner of the Dutch TT of 2006. There had been another before them: Scott Russell had been 1993 Superbike champion, and was recruited mid-'95 to replace the retired Kevin Schwantz at Suzuki. A spirited rider, he was three times third in two years, before his career was cut short. And now James Toseland. Twice a Superbike champion, and he had to fight hard for it, the Briton has struggled to make anything like the same impression in MotoGP. A strong start petered out in the second year, for various reasons, some beyond his control. Now his own GP future is looking as though it may be thing of the past. There are other examples. Former World 600 Supersport champion Chris Vermeulen never won the Superbike title, but he came very close, and was a leading player. In GPs, in spite of an inspiring wet win, this just never quite happened. In fact, the only Superbike champion who has achieved success didn't actually come from the world series but from America's AMA championship. Nicky Hayden won the MotoGP title in 2006, beating Rossi. But even he admits that "I lucked into it a bit", and even Nicky has won only three GPs in 112 starts. The point would be proven if the opposite were true: if when GP riders moved to the World Superbike series they were able to dominate easily. But it's not true. While John Kocinski did take one title, and Raymond Roche (only an average GP racer) another. But some redoubtable GP riders have tried and failed. Including Max Biaggi, and even he has struggled to achieve more than occasional success. On the grids right now neither Carlos Checa nor Shinya Nakano have lit anybody's fuses; nor had John Hopkins, though he has been more absent injured than there to defend his reputation. The whole comparison is somewhat skewed, perhaps, with many of the refugees already in the twilight of their careers. GP riders generally make the great move over the divide not by choice, but because they have run out of options in the GP paddock. There is no question: MotoGP is the class to which all riders ultimately aspire. Looked at rationally, it makes no sense that Superbike champions should as a breed fall short in MotoGP. If the statistics prove it, it is only because it is true on a case-by- case basis. It merely means that the right one hasn't come along yet. Perhaps, with Ben Spies, the right one will have come along. ouble Superbike champ, but couldn't make hsi mark in MotoGP Colin Edwards -- 11 MotoGP podiums, but no win Moto GP FEATURE >> 31