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GP Week : Issue 127
Money talks. Live with it! GPWEEK OPINION >> individual struggles in a difficult financial climate. Shouldn’t they be turned into just one? Leaving aside other considerations, it is time to wonder if this would be a good idea in terms of the racing. Would the interests of the fans be better served? And how about the technical interests of the factories? In principle there has never been any doubt over which title is senior. MotoGP was the World Championship from 1949 onwards, long before it gained the gimmicky name. Superbikes were late- comers in 1988; upstarts. And in any case they were based on production bikes, while grand prix bikes were thoroughbred racers. Since then the distinctions have blurred, while production bikes have come closer to race engineering in several respects. Certainly in terms of chassis and suspension: the big difference in running gear between GP bike and Superbike is that the former uses full-race carbon brakes. Engine differences also are less, give or take a few thousand rpm. Especially since MotoGP introduced engine-life rules demanding much greater endurance. Both the Aprilia and BMW Superbike engines are more or less MotoGP ready, under next year ’s new CRT (Claiming Rule Team) regulations. Ah, CRT. Entrants in this premier- class under-class are allowed to use production-based engines; something that was specifically banned when MotoGP four-strokes replaced two- strokes in 2002. Opposition from InFront has so far gone no further than rumbling complaints, but it shows how the two series now overlap. I hate the dumbing down of pure prototype GP racing. Given this, I see Moto2 as a major backward step (good racing, mind you). Moto3 likewise. Ditto CRT. But this view is tinged with acceptance: it’s a fait accompli, and was probably inevitable. Maybe the linking of the two rival series is also inevitable. three times as many personnel as any other broadcaster to races – including the previous UK rights holder, ITV. They bring more people than FOM, who are the ones that actually film and broadcast the racing exclusively. Of course, the financial health of the BBC and that of Ecclestone and the teams is of little concern to most of us. Our expenditure, on the other hand, is and so is our desire for quality and accessible F1 programming. On this front things don’t look so rosy. In polls I’ve read since the BBC/Sky move was announced – to the surprise of the teams as much as us bystanders, suggesting the deal was done last- minute – the overwhelming majority of fans say they are displeased and they will not be taking out a Sky subscription. Some that have Sky subscriptions complain that the coverage of other sports is dumbed-down and that presenters will never criticize the ‘product’, so if we get a boring race the pundits will try to convince us it was a stunner. That could be irritating. Others in Britain are resistant to supporting a Murdoch enterprise, in light of the current phone hacking scandal. For committed fans who never miss aracelive–bywhichImeanyou–the fact that the BBC will now show only half the races in real time means you have no choice: you must divvy up £40 – around US$60 – (£50 if you want it in HD) and bolt a dish to your roof. Many of you may protest that you won’t, but you will. If you’re a committed F1 fan you’re not going to give up watching every race live, are you? Plus, the Sky package will let you watch DTM, GP2, NASCAR, IndyCar and classic F1 races. In fact, if you’re a petrol-head the chances are you’ve probably already got it. There won’t be advertisement breaks in the coverage either. Had it been sold to Channel 4 or Channel 5 there would have been. Remember how annoying those were on ITV? We’ve had it so good on the BBC, and no one likes having to pay for something they once got free, but the Beeb couldn’t sustain it and Sky is, I believe, the best option available. But it doesn’t matter what you or I think. Two for one – is there one too many world series? 21