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GP Week : Issue 184
20 GPWEEK.com // 20 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: It’s rules that make good racing. Just look at Moto2. It may bear the title ‘World Championship,’ but it runs under the same sort of sweeping restrictions that prevail in club- or national-level one-make series. The result: elbow- clashing fairing-scraping close combat. The difference is the level of the riders: almost to a man they are would-be MotoGP-class stars on their way through from 125/Moto3 beginnings, including several former World Champions. Or is it really good racing? I am far from sure. Certainly it’s close, and certainly there is good riding involved. But only riding of a certain type: compensating for machine shortcomings. To be blunt, it is a bunch of excellent riders trying to make the most of distinctly average bikes. How can a hand-made purpose-built grand prix motorcycle be described as average? Because of what is in its belly: a low-cost low-grade production Honda CBR600 engine, tuned only mildly to ensure reliability. Similar motors from Honda and other makers produce significantly more horsepower in World Supersport, where they are allowed to bolt in another one when it blows up. In Moto2, one size fits all: the motors are prepped and provided by Dorna from a new Aragon facility. They all sound the same, look the same, and in theory go the same ... though there is always room for a Wednesday morning wonder or a Friday afternoon flop. The electronics are likewise identical, doled out at random, and monitored to prevent any circumvention of the control circuits. They are basement-level. One complaint from ex-Moto2 riders now in MotoGP (Marquez being one) is that they don’t give even a basic preparation for the level of electronics. Then there’s the sheer mass of the street engine, compared with a racing prototype. Class graduate Bradley Smith described the bikes as “plumpsome” . The final one-for-all item is crucial: the Dunlop tyres. And a small change in design this year – making them a little more slidy – has changed the profile of the championship. Before the start of the season, Pol Espargaro was a shoo-in favourite. He was, after all, the only guy who’d been able to give Marquez a run for his money last year. Instead, after winning the first round in Qatar – known as an atypical track – Pol’s been struggling while the different style of Scott Redding has come to the fore. None of this is cast in stone, because Moto2 encourages flash-in-the-pan success, and as a consequence top-ten results can be pretty random. But it does serve to illustrate a class that is far too much hostage to artificial technology limitations. Hostage, in other words, to too many rules. Good riders on bad bikes doesn’t necessarily make good racing, even if they are so close to one another. RULES AND THE RUIN THEY BRING OPINION OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor