As the jaded editor of a motorcycle publication and website who has seen more motorcycle races in his life than some people have had hot meals, MotoGP is confusing the hell out of me. In fact, I’m having a hard time explaining what’s going on to my friends who look to me as someone who knows. Or should know. Now when I’m trying to tell them what it all means, I’m not sure whose eyes are more glazed over – theirs or mine.
It sure seems like only yesterday when Grand Prix racing was simple. It was the best riders in the world on the baddest motorcycles the factories could produce. Racing against each other. It was good stuff. Go figure. If you wanted a bunch of rules that restricted what you could or couldn’t do to your motorcycles, you raced Superbikes.
I’m going back a bit here, but when MotoGP was 500cc GP the rules were fairly simple: the motorcycles had to be 500cc or less, they had to have four cylinders or less and they had six-speed transmissions. That I could explain.
It basically meant you could focus on Wayne Rainey vs. Kevin Schwantz. Eddie Lawson vs. Freddie Spencer. Kenny Roberts vs. Barry Sheene. Throw in a few arguments about what tires would be better and away you went. And if the Yamaha was better at the start of the season, it didn’t mean the Suzuki/Honda wouldn’t be better by the end, etc. Things changed as crew chiefs/engineers actually engineered mid-season.
Now it’s “Factory” class, “Open” class… “Factory 2?” Now it’s fuel restrictions, ECUs, software… sealed engines with no in-season development. And the tires are all made by a single manufacturer and they have stripes painted on the sidewalls so you know who is using what (which actually is a pretty good idea in a series with too many bad ones.).
My father Kel won six World Championships as a crew chief in an era when that still meant something. If he applied for the job now, they’d likely choose the pimple-faced kid at the Apple store instead.
But when I get frustrated about MotoGP, I give the old man a call to talk about something other than family, projects around the house I need him to help with, what movies he’s seen lately, etc. Misery loves company and it’s always nice to chat with someone who is at least as equally frustrated about things than you. So I gave dad a call this morning to pick his brain on MotoGP – since together we can usually fix most anything (actually, he fixes, I just hand him tools and make him tea). I got him fired up and let him loose with a simple request for him to remind me of what sort of controls they had on fuel use “back in the day.”
To read more of Carruthers Says in this week’s Cycle News, click here