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GP Week : Issue 156
FASTER BIKES MAKE PASSING EASIER IS MOTORCYCLE RACING APPEALING? Qatar always being a special case, Catalunya was the first track this year where similar conditions allowed a really meaningful comparison between the 1000s and last year’s 800s. The new bikes came out smiling, along with those who had predicted that bigger engines would bring back some chance of overtaking. Last year’s Catalunyan GP demonstrated the worst of the 800s: 15 riders circulating at their own pace playing follow my leader, and not a single overtaking move among the top five after the fourth lap. And precious few before that point. Processional racing at its worst. The action so far this year has been better, everywhere. The lap chart from his year’s race was hugely different, quite apart from the increased numbers, up to 21. The lead changed hands four times, and it was a similar story behind. There were passing moves all the way back to a massive CRT-bike battle for 13th. It’s not just in passing that the bigger bikes are more pleasing. They also sound better, and go faster. Pole at Qatar was actually slower this year than last, but at Catalunya Stoner was a significant 1.2 seconds faster than Marco Simoncelli last year. This is in spite of tyres that have been slightly dumbed down, in the interests of safety. Racing organisers get a lot of brick-bats for the frequent rule changes. This time they deserve some praise. The racing has most definitely improved. What a pity they want to change the rules again in 2014 or 2015. A series of events after the Moto2 race at Catalunya revived memories of the bad old days of racing ... muddled and conflicting management and unclear decisions. The result? We don’t know the results. What is clear is that the Race Direction committee and the FIM stewards disagree. And that it looks as though Marc Marquez has got away with it again. It stems from a last-lap incident, where the Spanish rider almost lost it at the end of the back straight and then, travelling a great deal slower, slammed the door on rival Pol Espargaro, who was making the most of the error to dive through on the inside. Pol crashed heavily. It was certainly arguable ... many (including most riders) thought it was a normal racing incident. Marquez himself publicly apologised, but said that he didn’t know that Espargaro was there. (Hard to imagine where he thought he had gone, since he had been right there all race long.) Race Direction – a committee including new race director Mike Webb and a representative from Dorna and the FIM – took a harsher view. Marquez was already on a yellow card after an overly tough move on Thomas Luthi at Qatar. On a sort of totting-up basis, they adjudged that Marquez “rode in an irresponsible manner causing danger to Espargaro” , and hit him with a one-minute penalty. This dropped him from third to 23rd, and at least redressed the points that second-overall Espargaro had lost. Marquez’s team appealed, but few expected it to succeed. The surprise came five hours later, when the FIM Stewards cancelled the penalty. According to the official release, Race Direction now has the chance to appeal to a higher authority, the FIM CDI. Soon after wards, however, came the news they would not appeal. Racing looks silly enough already. 29 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> BARCELONA