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GP Week : Issue 182
The last-corner move by Marc Marquez at Jerez has stirred MICHAEL SCOTT’S memory banks – there have been some classic spots for similar moves in MotoGP’s past ... CRUCIAL CORNERS Happy is a racing era in which top-three results are decided on the last corner. Like last weekend at Jerez. The Marquez/ Lorenzo Jerez pass evoked many memories. Aside from often involving the same people – a small parade of great champions – they have another thing in common. They happen at special circuits – for simple reasons of track design. A lesson clearly not fully absorbed by the modern generation of circuit. So where exactly are (or were) the best places for these battles of will and crunching bodywork? Which were the most memorable of those moves? We picked three great spots for a quick tour through the high points. SUZUKA CHICANE Riders don’t have to change places to make an epic last corner. Suzuka in 1993 was Wayne Rainey’s greatest race, in his estimation. On sliding Dunlop tyres against the opposition’s stickier Michelins he rode dirt-track style to intimidate his way to the front, and to stay there by 0.086 of a second, in spite of Schwantz’s final chicane attack. The same pair laid on a different tableau in 1989. They had been battling all race; time and again Rainey would arrive at the chicane back wheel in the air, forcing Schwantz to take a tight defensive line so that he was slow on the exit, handing the lead back to Wayne. Last lap, and unexpectedly Rainey didn’t attack. Schwantz won by less than half a second. Explanation? Rainey, unable to see his pit board, had misinterpreted the official circuit lap counter. He thought there was still one lap to go. Rainey was uncatchable there in 1990, but the chicane played its part in the battle for second. Schwantz and this time Wayne Gardner would arrive side by side. On the last time, they collided, Schwantz high-sided, but remounted for third. Schwantz won again in 1991, a race where the lead changed four times on the final lap. His final chicane attack on Mick Doohan’s Honda was successful this time, but they were not alone: with Rainey and Kocinski also more or less alongside, the first four crossed the line within half-a-second. Sadly the classic Japanese circuit is lost to MotoGP thanks to insoluble safety problems. Modern racing has something similar – at least in effect, in the last left-right corner set at Brno. It’s a reliable race-decider, up to an including last year, when Pedrosa bamboozled Lorenzo there. continued over page MOTOGP >>> FEATURE