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GP Week : Issue 119
MotoGP fans should be getting used to it by now ... but the sight of just 15 bikes on the Catalunya grid, dwarfed by the giant grandstands and long straight, was disheartening nonetheless. Especially after watching a pack of 36 line up for the Moto2 race less than two hours before. On a long track like this, 4.727 km, they soon get spread out. Practice and qualifying were notable for the long spells between any motorbikes coming past. It shows how MotoGP is scraping along the bottom. It has been for a couple of years now. Proof? Points are paid down to 15th place. All you have to do to earn them is finish the race. This was the fourth GP in the last two years with such a depleted field. Last year, the same number lined up at Assen, Silverstone and Phillip Island. It had been almost 20 years since the last time there were so few: 15 in Germany in 1991; just 14 in the USA in 1990. There have been other races where it was impossible to muster more. Even some with ten or less on the grid. But that was usually due to special circumstances, whether it was reluctance to travel to Argentina (11 in 1962, ten in 1961) or something else. Like in Germany in 1974 when the factory riders went on strike over safety at the Nürburgring. The record goes to Argentina. Just six on the grid in 1961, with Britain’s Frank Perris the only non- Latin American. No wonder there is such unseemly haste in opening up the class to production-engined Moto2 teams next year. Quite honestly, it can’t come soon enough. Two to tango – but how many to race? MOTOGP CATALUNYA >> 27