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GP Week : Issue 84A
THERE is a tide in racing, and it is Spanish. At the head of the surge are Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa; but the breaking wave has plenty of back-up power. Spanish riders all but own the 125 class, and are strong in Moto2. Now, after Jerez and Le Mans, two Grand Prix weekends in a row when every race was won by a Spanish rider, you might be forgiven for thinking that Spain is well on the way to becoming the dominant nation in motorcycle grand prix racing. You would be right, but not as right as all that. Spain is very close to becoming the second-most race-winning nation of all time ... just 20 race wins short of overtaking Great Britain. But statistics put Italy so far ahead of the rest that it's a very distant second place. At the end of last year, taking into account the three continuing classes of GP racing, Italy has a massive total of 637 individual race wins. Britain, on the verge of being swamped by Spain, had a measly 278. Add in the defunct 50/80cc and 350cc classes, and it's equally emphatic: Italy on 725, then Britain (360), Spain (340); the USA a distant fourth on 172. I cobbled the statistics together from the GP media professional's bible: the annual publication of what we still all call"the Marlboro book" , even though it is some years since the cigarette logo was dropped from a book that inevi- tably grows fatter and fatter every year. And is now on sale to the public for the first time (look for "MotoGP Results 2010 Edition, 1949-2009 Guide" ,by Werner Haeflinger). The Marlboro book may be exhaus- tive in its assembly and arrangement of statistics, running from pole position and finishing order of every GP since it all started to youngest-ever and oldest- ever race winners, with a great deal in between. But it only deals with the 125, 250 and 500/MotoGP classes in full detail. The old 350s, terminated in 1982 and the 50/80cc tiddler class (passed away 1989) are more sketchily covered by the late addition of a comparatively sketchy supplement. Enough, however, for us to further our investigation into this disunited league of nations. For in the light of two Spanish hat-tricks in a row along with the imminent football world cup, it seemed like time to take stock of the national to-and-fro in motorcycle grand prix racing. 38