Former 500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner will be offering his GP insights on a regular basis to cyclenews.com readers and we're happy to have him. For more from the Wollongong Wonder, visit his website at www.waynegardnerapproved.com.au.AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
I've just been reviewing the MotoGP CRT entry list for next year and I've got to say, I don't think this approach is the way forward. So far the list only comprises six new one-rider teams, all of whom are making the step up from Moto2. You can be sure they'll be up against it. I don't think these teams are experienced enough to make any sort of impact in MotoGP and I predict their riders will struggle badly. It's a weak start to the new era and this concerns me.
While it looks like Kawasaki, BMW and Aprilia will be involved as engine suppliers to these new teams, it's all still very vague. The big question is: are these new factories looking to mount a serious challenge with a CRT team so that they don't end up with egg on their face if they under-perform? Or are they simply not overly interested, therefore leaving the CRT teams to develop the engines themselves? Make no mistake: without strong manufacturer support these riders will simply become backmarkers and I don't think that's going to do a lot for anyone. We all want the sport to grow, but I don't think this will achieve anything.
This all brings me to the actual Claiming Rule, which, bizarrely, allows a full factory team to claim or buy a strongly performing CRT engine. It's utterly ludicrous. Why would any new factory want to get involved if there's a chance they'll have to give up their investment? It simply offers no encouragement for a manufacturer to put in a huge amount of effort. Rules for any race series need to be simple so that anyone - spectators and teams alike - can understand and work with them. As things currently stand, we certainly don't have that. In my opinion, these recently announced teams will be the only additions to the MotoGP grid for next year. They'll end up getting routinely lapped by the full-spec MotoGP bikes and it will only serve to devalue the spectacle. In fact, I'll make a guess now and predict that the CRT machines will be slower than Superbikes. Which brings me to the next point......
LESS THAN SUPER
I caught race two of the World Supers at Aragon last night and it was a pretty ordinary show - drawn out and uneventful. It didn't do a lot for me, to be honest. Yet again we saw retired GP riders dominating and making the rest of the field look very average. It really shows how second-rate the series is these days. A lot of people didn't agree with my suggestion last week to merge MotoGP and World Supers, but I'm still not seeing a reason why it shouldn't happen. Both classes are struggling, and I think that allowing top-flight Superbikes to enter MotoGP is a far better option than this whole CRT thing.
ASSEN ON MY MIND
Assen is a track that always brings back a lot of memories - good and bad. It's an amazing place, steeped in tradition and always attracting enormous crowds. Even though it's been modified heavily over the years, there's still no venue like it. It was the scene of my first ever GP start back in ‘83. I paid my own way over from the UK (that's how tough things were back then), hoping I'd win some prize money to cover the costs, while Honda Great Britain let me use their three-cylinder NS500s.
It's no secret that my race ended in disaster very early in the piece when I hit World Champion Franco Uncini, putting him into a coma for three weeks. It was the most horrific and traumatic experience of my life. I almost quit racing and wore a lot of blame and criticism from an incensed Italian media. After all these years, the memory of that horrible time certainly hasn't diminished. Having said that, I also returned to Assen and took the first of my two Dutch TT wins three years later. I still love the place and wish I was going to be there for this weekend's MotoGP. It should be a great one. My tip? I can't go past Casey.
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