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GP Week : Issue 156
25 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: One bike is enough for one rider at one time. That much is clear. Is one bike per rider at a grand prix enough for the world’s premier motorcycle series? Seems the rule-makers think it is. Meetings at the weekend edged closer to imposing the rule, which already applies in the smaller classes. And in World Superbikes. This will certainly help cut costs for the smaller teams; in other words the CRT teams, in whose interests racing is being cut back and remoulded. Won’t make much difference to the factories. They still get the same number of engines, and will doubtless build the same number of bikes. The spare bikes will simply be in the back of the truck instead of the back of the pit. The effect on the racing? It’s hard to see any advantage. Easy to see the opposite. There is the problem of a rider crashing in qualifying. Let’s just say it is Rossi, still the crowd favourite no matter what the position. If he should slip off early in the session before recording a time, he would probably sacrifice any grid position, though it’s unthinkable he would actually be excluded. And the crowd would be denied the chance to see him in action. They might not see that much of him anyway, or his rivals, if every time they calls in for tyre or setting changes he has to sit it out while mechanics fiddle with the suspension, the geometry, or whatever. Then comes the race. It won’t have any effect there if somebody crashes. They’re out anyway. But what if it rains mid-race? Or dries up? The current flag-to-flag bike-change system works a treat: riders pit and jump athletically onto their spare bike, and go out again. Can’t do that without a spare bike. The likely solution would be fixed-time pit stops – say two minutes, long enough for wheels and brakes to be changed, and suspension settings softened. Which would work, except for the temptation to riders to risk staying out on the wrong tyres to avoid the considerable penalty. Unless of course the pit stop is compulsory. The more you think about it, the sillier it gets. The only way it makes sense is as part of the crescendo of new rules. They’re designed to make racing cheaper. And closer. And every time a new rule comes in another new rule is required to make it work. And so on and so on. Never have the conflicting demands of racing – business versus sport – been so dramatically opposed. The federation is there to take care of the sporting side, but they have leased off their authority to Dorna in exchange for financial comfort. Dorna only cares about business. The sport continues to suffer: the business isn’t doing too well either. And the rules continue to become more numerous and less productive as they move further towards reduction ad absurdum. Maybe the next thing will be a no-bike rule. Then we can all go home like Casey, and sit by the river bank remembering the good old days. OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor WHEN LESS REALLY IS ... LESS! OPINION