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GP Week : Issue 144
MOTOGP REVIEW >> ERAS’ ENDINGS SOME of the several ends-of-era in 2010 were already marked in the diary. It was the last year of 125s, and also of racing two-strokes. Next year they will be replaced by purring 250 four-strokes. Many mourn the two-stroke, but interest for the new class proved lively, with several engines and chassis set to do battle including Honda, KTM and Indian newcomer Mahindra. Few mourn the end of the 800cc class. They replaced the original MotoGP 990s in 2007, in a misguided and manifestly unsuccessful effort to stop the steady increase in speeds. Hand in hand with vaulting progress in electronic rider aids and the control-tyre Bridgestones of 2009, the second-generation of MotoGP turned into an exacting sort of motorcycle with very high corner speeds and a one-line knife-edge of performance. Overtaking became rarer, races more processional. In 2012 it’s back to 1000cc, though with the same tyres and electronics it’s hard to hope that they’ll be that much different. One can only hope. Other eras were less clearly defined: but 2011 looks like marking the end of Valentino Rossi’s. He and Ducati need to take a great leap forward if he is to prove otherwise. Well, Rossi is Rossi. But Rossi is 33 in February, while Ducati seems to have lost its way. There are still many questions over the final fin de siècle. But again, it looks as though 2011 marks the end of the rule of the factories in the MotoGP class. The fact that Suzuki departed (ending its own interrupted era stretching back to 1959) could prove the first of more to follow, after Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta proposed radical technical rule changes for 2013. They are part of a package to cut costs, and improve the chances of the production-based CRT machines that start next year. With factory bike numbers down to 12 for 2012, at least 10 CRT bikes are expected to make up the numbers. How long will it be before they make up the whole grid? Two-strokes, 125s, 800s, Suzuki ... and what else? NEW BLOOD, FAST BLOOD SIMONCELLI aside, there was no particular outstanding future talent conspicuous in the premier class. At the other end of the paddock, it was very different. Most especially in the 125 class. There the well-named Maverick Vinales turned up, stocky and sombre and just 16. And threatened to win the championship. The last person to do that was Loris Capirossi, 22 years ago. The latest high-level recruit from the Spanish championship, Vinales seems set for at least as big a future. Riding an Aprilia for the experienced Spanish Blusens team, carrying improbable Paris Hilton sponsorship, he at once outranked experienced team-mate Sergio Gadea. The first of four wins came at round four; he also took three poles out of six front-row starts. His style was as exciting: tucked in and throttle open. Next year he stays in Moto3 with an FTR Honda. Watch him go. Other 125 riders deserve mention. Johan Zarco was always exciting to watch, which cannot be said of his more experienced and ultimately successful rival Nico Terol, who won eight races on the way to becoming the last ever 125 champion. Jonas Folger took a brilliant wet win. Both go to Moto2 next year. The Moto2 year proved what we already knew about Marc Marquez. He was able to continue as he left off in 125s: dominant. But he wasn’t able to claim the title: injury at the end (for once the innocent victim in a crash) gave the advantage back to early runaway leader Stefan Bradl, who had been looking increasingly stolid once Marquez got going. Marquez won seven races, Bradl four. And the title. And a move to MotoGP on the LCR Honda next year, while Marquez will stay put for a second go. By comparison, relative old hands Iannone, de Angelis, Luthi and Corsi were left trailing in the next four championship positions. But other new boys from 125s were impressive in the Moto2 brawl. Bradley Smith was seventh, and three times on the rostrum; Pol Espargaro made the top three twice, and was reliably in the heat of the action. 125 AND MOTO2