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GP Week : Issue 113
GPWEEK OPINION >> Team Tony's Seven Wonders Bikes and the 'no-stop' strategy ... But nothing has had the effect of the new Pirelli tyres, specifically designed to deteriorate sharply after a certain number of laps. Strategy has become both more complex and more transparent; while the variations in lap times made damned sure that overtaking is a compulsory feature of every race. Could MotoGP do with something of the same? Moto2 has, after all, already shown us that while having a standard engine may still feel well beneath the dignity of a worthy world championship series ... the actual racing is quite simply second to none. Artificial controls are, or can be, productive. But what? Clearly, it can’t be tyres. When a car’s tyres go off, drivers talk figuratively of “falling off a cliff ”. On two wheels, you just fall off your motorbike. Or maybe not? At present MotoGP runs without pit-stops as such (the races are only 40 minutes long). Except if it rains. Then – tyre-changing reckoned to be unnecessarily risky and time- consuming – riders actually change bikes. Every time it’s happened, it’s been hugely enjoyable. With, rather than a cliff, a more gentle slope in tyre degradation perhaps it could be an option. Into the pits, and onto your other bike. Then we too could have one-stop, two- stop or even-more-stops strategy. And total confusion over who is in front until the very last lap. On second thoughts ... I think I prefer it the way it is. After all, motor sport is by nature defined by spells of relative boredom, punctuated by moments of heart-stopping excitement. And MotoGP, over the past year or two, has had plenty of those to savour. be confirmed on Wednesday – is an interesting move. My first ever job was with Caterham. I practically learned to drive in a Seven. At that stage, the company was in desperate need of sound management, but it was a good little company with relatively low overheads and a loyal following. They would flog 550 cars a year and turn a consistent profit. But we used to reach for the Nurofen whenever someone wanted a car outside of the UK. Caterham has a very small dealer network in the US, Japan and Western Europe. If you want to buy a Seven in Qatar or Indonesia then be prepared for a lot of paperwork and a pinch of uncertainty. The buzz is that Fernandes wants to push sales in South East Asia, which is the focus of his other enterprises. It would give Malaysia a second sports car maker (a political move if ever there was one), and of course Caterham has Lotus roots, having started as a Lotus Seven dealer before taking a license from Lotus Cars – sound familiar? – to continue building them after official production ceased in 1973. Caterhams aren’t that cheap (the range starts at just under £14k and goes to over £40k for the hottest Seven), and a lack of air conditioning makes them rather unsuitable for downtown KL. However, as a grassroots racing tool, the Seven is the best in the business and it’s here, with a bit of F1-sponsored fairy dust, that Tony could kick off a racing revolution in Asia, which will promote local talent as well as road car sales. What’s more, Caterham’s green and yellow plectrum badge was inspired by Lotus. So if Team Lotus changed its name to Team Caterham – thus solving a lot of headaches on either side of the current court case – the brand identity would barely change. Caterham offers an affiliation with a no frills, accessible marque, suiting the Fernandes corporate stable well. Of course, there’s nothing accessible and no-frills about Formula One, which is why Tony Fernandes cuts a somewhat quaint figure in the paddock. A stand-out Prisoner-spec Seven should suit him. 21