by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 101
engine is in the crankshaft, and the gearbox, adjacent at the bottom of the unit. Four-strokes are different: the essential superstructure of camshafts and fuel-injection gear, plus the use of stacked (vertically disposed) gearboxes mean not only that the mass occupies a greater area, but that a significant portion of it is higher. As important, perhaps more so in terms of difficulty of rider adaptation, is the engine braking. It’s not a factor in two- strokes. On a four-stroke it’s big, and subject to several different controls: slipper clutches and fast-idle programmes the most important. Neither mean the rider has nothing left to do. “It’s the most difficult thing to adapt to about a four-stroke,” said the best of them so far, Marco Simoncelli. The Honda rider has not only the best results of the ex- 250 gang: one sixth and three sevenths put him tenth overall and eight points ahead of the next-best, Barbera, with one eighth place and three ninths. Simoncelli has also been the most rewarding to watch. His cavalier 250 style is showing more often, especially in the early laps: he will be interesting on a factory bike next year. Headlong in the smaller classes, Barbera has surprised with his consistency: the satellite Ducati rider’s only non-finish was a chain failure at Laguna; but Bautista has been even more of a bright spark, considering he is on the less competitive Suzuki. Crashes and breakdowns have cost him points, but he is still ahead of veteran team-mate Capirossi in the championship, and his fifth at Catalunya (backed by eight in the last three races) put him well in touch with Espargaro. Top talents on the way up. Yet none can be compared with Ben Spies in results. In only his second year of racing outside America, he is already a factor up front, twice on the rostrum and challenging Dovizioso for fifth overall. They are all more or less of an age. Spies is 26, Aoyama actually the oldest rookie at 28, and Bautista 25. Barbera and Simoncelli are 23, and Espargaro the youngster at 21. Another difference is harder to measure: sheer talent. Spies obviously has a huge amount. But you could hardly say Simoncelli and his mates were short-changed in that department. The biggest difference is in racing background. Spies has been a four-stroke man throughout his top-level career. And it certainly seems to count. Nicky Hayden made a remark at Aragon that seemed to bear this out. Having come earlier to test at the track, his street Ducati blew a fuse and he was obliged to switch to a Moto2 bike. He came away impressed by how much a young rider could learn that would be relevant for MotoGP. “I would like more power but the bikes are cool – fun, little nimble racy bikes. Stop on a dime, and turn on a dime. I think they are good training.” Encouraging news for the current Moto2 riders looking for greater things to come, and for ex-Superbike stars like the forthcoming Cal Crutchlow, making the MotoGP switch. They needn’t think it’s going to be easy to do as well as Ben. Moto GP FEATURE >> 41