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GP Week : Issue 125
What Ralph Lauren can teach Mr E GPWEEK OPINION >> the start, protesting about track safety; in 1989 the factory riders pulled out of the Italian GP at Misano, both because of a dangerous track. In between riders had joined to support the World Series, an alternative World Championship with a new federation. The FIM won that battle, but only after making major concessions. That laid the foundations for teams’ association IRTA, and the modern financially fairer structure of racing. The latest example is two-fold. Riders at the packed Sachsenring Safety Commission meeting voiced a united opinion demanding an end to crashes due to restricted tyre choice. The response, from Dorna and Bridgestone was immediate, promising more choice for the near future. Good work. We’re all tired of seeing riders crash in cool morning sessions. The other example of rider power reflects rather differently on them – the still ongoing decision to boycott the Japanese GP. The riders’ trepidation flies in the face of all evidence: radiation danger at Motegi is somewhat less than that on a long-haul flight. The decision is based on irrational fear and prejudice. It is particularly distasteful, given that they all voiced support for Japan after the earthquake/tsunami, and wear stickers on their bikes reading “With You Japan”. The opposite is true. Supporting Japan would be to go and race there, to show the earthquake victims and the world at large that the country is back to business as usual. Staying away is actually refusing to support Japan, based on ill-informed fear that seems bizarre in a group of professional dare-devils. Most of all, as IRTA president Hervé Poncharal put it, it shows a massive lack of respect for the people of Japan, for the motorcycle industry that employs most of them, to the race organisers, and to racing itself. MotoGP needs to be ashamed on behalf of its hypocritical heroes. or two veteran members of the media looked teary-eyed in appreciation. Bernie has exhibited his own cars at one or two races in the past – notably at the 2009 Bahrain Grand Prix - but he’s never had a full-scale exhibition in the style of Ralph Lauren’s L’Art de L’Automobile expo. At the moment, the sport is looking at ways to engage with the US fan audience and also to pull in US sponsorship ahead of next year’s Austin race. The Ecclestone collection could help do both in small part, and help cement F1’s grand heritage and timeless prestige in transatlantic minds. America’s money is in New York. Transport Mr E’s collection – which is mostly stored in Biggin Hill – over to Manhattan’s MOMA (which already boasts a John Barnard- designed 1990 Ferrari 641/2 as a perfect example of functional design) and use it as much as a spiders web for commercial interest as an expo for the demographic that US F1 audiences represent. At the Lauren exhibition, videos of the great man with his cars and his runway models made for seductive propaganda. A similar audio-visual experience could do the same for Bernie and Formula One at MOMA, with evocative manufacturer brands Mercedes, McLaren, Lotus and Ferrari queuing up to get a slice of the action. Everyone would be a winner – especially the aficionados. Just so long as the gift shop doesn’t try to charge $200 for a polo shirt. Ralph Lauren and Bernie Ecclestone are cut from the same cloth. MotoGP’s hypocritical heroes 23