Monthly Archives: May 2018

Italian GP 2018 – Fast Facts

  • At Mugello last year it was the first time since the Italian Grand Prix in 2008 that the winners of all three races were Italian riders. On that occasion it was: MotoGP – Valentino Rossi, 250cc – Marco Simoncelli and 125cc – Simone Corsi.
  • Andrea Dovizioso win at Mugello last year was the third time that he had stood on the top step of the podium in the MotoGP class, but for the first time in fully dry conditions.
  • Dovizioso’s win last year at the Italian GP was the first ever GP win in the premier-class for an Italian rider on an Italian bike at the Mugello circuit. The previous premier-class Grand Prix win by an Italian rider on an Italian manufactured motorcycle in Italy was by Gianfranco Bonera in the 500cc race at the 1974 Nations Grand Prix at Imola in 1974.
  • At the Italian Grand Prix last year Ducati had three riders finish in the top five in a dry MotoGP race for the first time since the Australian GP in 2007 won by Casey Stoner from factory Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi with Alex Barros in fifth on the Pramac Ducati.
  • Tenth place finisher at Mugello, Andrea Iannone, crossed the line just 15.502 seconds after race winner Andrea Dovizioso – which was the closest ever top ten finish in the MotoGP class in a race that has run for full distance. Later in the year this record was re-written when just 1414.075 seconds covered the top ten finishers in Aragon.
  • The sixth place finish by Marc Marquez at the Italian Grand Prix last year was the first time he has finished a race outside of the top five in a race where he has not either been penalised or crashed and re-started, since the 125cc race at Brno in 2010. Marquez has won in all three classes at Mugello: 125cc race in 2010, Moto2 in 2011 and MotoGP in 2014.
  • Valentino Rossi is the most successful rider across all the classes at Mugello, with a total of nine victories; one each in 125cc and 250cc classes to add to his seven successive MotoGP wins (2 x Honda + 5 x Yamaha), the last of which came in 2008. Following his third place finish at Le Mans Rossi has scored a premier-class career total of 4989 points. A 5th place finish or better at Mugello will see him become the first rider to reach the milestone of 5000 career points in the premier-class of grand prix racing.
  • Prior to last year Lorenzo had finished either first or second for eight successive years at Mugello, including five wins in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
  • This weekend at Mugello Pol Espargaro is scheduled to make his 200th Grand Prix start. He will be the second youngest rider to reach this milestone, after Sandro Cortese. His brother Aleix made his 200th GP start last year and this gives them the honour of becoming the first siblings to both reach the milestone of 200 grand prix starts.
  • Andrea Iannone qualified on pole in 2015 at Mugello riding a Ducati – his first pole in the MotoGP class.  This was the first time that an Italian rider on an Italian bike had qualified on pole for a premier-class grand prix in Italy since Giacomo Agostini was on pole for the 500cc GP at Imola in 1972.
  • Yamaha have gone 15 MotoGP races without a win, their longest winless sequence since the 18 race winless streak that included the last two races of 2002 and the 16 races of 2003.
  • Only three riders have scored points at all five MotoGP races in 2018: Maverick Vinales, Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller.
  • Mattia Pasini first Moto2™ win at Mugello last year was the first time he had stood on the top step of the podium since winning the 250cc race at Mugello in 2009.
  • In the Moto3 class last year at Mugello, Andrea Migno took his first Grand Prix victory in what was his 51st grand prix start.
  • Last year the 15th place finisher in the Moto3 race, Jorge Martin, crossed the line just 1.553 seconds behind race winner Andrea Migno; this is the closest top 15 in any class in the 69-year history of motorcycle grand prix racing.
By | May 31st, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on Italian GP 2018 – Fast Facts

A Mir comparison

Joan Mir has already impressed in his short time in the Moto2 class in 2018 and it has already been announced that he is moving to the MotoGP class next year with Suzuki. Mir finished on the podium for the first time in the Moto2 class at the French GP in just his fifth start in the class. How does this compare with other top riders in their first year in Moto2? The following table shows this comparison against a selection other riders who have made an immediate impact when moving up to Moto2.

 

Rider Moto2 starts to first podium Age at first Moto2 podium Moto2 races to first win Final championship posn. in first Moto2 season
Mir 5 20 years 261 days ? ?
Vinales 2 19 years 91 days 2 3rd
Rins 2 19 years 125 days 10 2nd
Iannone 4 20 years 301 days 4 3rd
Marc Marquez 4 18 years 87 days 4 2nd
Bagnaia 4 20 years 113 days 19 5th

 

So the question now is – How long before Mir wins for the first time in the Moto2 class, and can he become the first to win the Moto2 title in the first season up from the lightweight-class? Unlikely as he already has a 47 point deficit to the championship leader, but who knows with another 13 races still remaining of 2018. If Mir wins in Catalunya, then it is game-on!

By | May 30th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|1 Comment

ONE LITTLE INCONVENIENCE AT MAGNIFICENT MUGELLO

From the moment the late great John Brown returned to the Motor Cycle News office to eulogise about the new Mugello circuit to a young rookie reporter I wanted to visit the spiritual home of MotoGP. JB had just witnessed the classic 1976 battle between Barry Sheene and Phil Read in those Tuscan Hills that was decided by one tenth of a second and I made my first visit six years later – I was not disappointed although there was one slight inconvenience, if you will excuse the pun.   

However glamorous your job may seem from the outside it’s still the basics that matter. Flying all over the world commentating on World Championship Motorsport may have seemed the perfect way to earn a living, but scrape the surface and it’s those basics that kept a predominately male group of travelling souls ticking over.

Topics of conversations varied especially when you were on those long flyaway trips. Football and the opposite sex were high on the agenda on flights to the far flung corners of the old British Empire as long as I can remember. That probably does not come as the greatest surprise to those long suffering loved ones back home who maintained regular life ready for our return with bags of laundry and excuses of jet lag when a meal out was suggested – After all give us a break, we have been eating out every night for the last three weeks talking about football and the opposite sex!  

Occasionally conversations did vary to a more practical level touching on how bad would the traffic be into the circuit, what time was lunch and the most importantly the availability of the nearest loo to our commentary position. Four hours of live television, punctuated with the need to consume vast quantiles of bottled water, caused their own special problems especially to somebody in the grey hair age range. 

Even the most modern of circuits have caused some tricky moments. This weekend’s venue Mugello, the Ferrari F1 test track and magnificent home of the Italian MotoGP race, always had facilities to die for apart from a good old fashioned sit down loo. A hole in the ground is a hole in the ground despite being surrounded by gleaming while marble and bright lights. The search for a proper sit down job became the focus of our investigative powers. Two were eventually discovered. The first in the medical centre and the second behind the commentary boxes on the second floor of the paddock complex. The only problem was the one behind the commentary box had no lock because it was a disabled toilet. A nameless colleague from the BBC was caught in a compromising position by the cleaner while sampling its delights. He’d devised an intricate locking method of wrapping his belt round the door handle combined with a broom handle but it failed miserably in his hour of need. 

Imagine our celebrations when we arrived at our favourite grand prix a few years ago to discover our predicament and discomfort was over with the arrival of proper sit down loos. Still the marble and the bright lights, but to be enjoyed sitting down. We could get back to talking about the opposite sex and football once again.

By | May 30th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|Comments Off on ONE LITTLE INCONVENIENCE AT MAGNIFICENT MUGELLO

Mugello 2018 – Facts and Stats

  • This is the 33rd occasion that a GP has been held at the Mugello circuit, including twenty-eight times in consecutive years starting in 1991.
  • The first time that Mugello hosted a grand prix event was in 1976. The 500cc race was won by Barry Sheene by the narrow margin of 0.1 sec from Phil Read, in a race lasting over 62 minutes. This was at a time when Suzuki riders dominated the premier-class; the first non-Suzuki rider home was Waerum Borge Nielsen in tenth place riding a Yamaha.
  • The layout of the Mugello circuit has remained basically the same since 1976 with the official track length of 5.245km remaining unchanged.
  • Yamaha have been the most successful manufacturer in the four-stroke MotoGP era at Mugello with a total of ten wins; five successive victories with Valentino Rossi in the years 2004 through to 2008, in addition to the wins with Lorenzo in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
  • Mugello is the most successful circuit for Yamaha in terms of MotoGP victories.
  • Honda have had four wins in the MotoGP class at Mugello: Valentino Rossi in 2002 and 2003, Dani Pedrosa in 2010, and Marc Marquez in 2014.
  • Ducati have had two wins at the Mugello; in 2009 with Casey Stoner and last year with Andrea Dovizioso.
  • Dovizioso’s win last year was the first ever GP win in the premier-class at Mugello for an Italian rider on an Italian bike.
  • The best results for Suzuki at Mugello in the MotoGP era is 5th, which was achieved by John Hopkins in 2007 and Loris Capirossi in 2009.
  • Loris Capirossi was the first Italian rider to win in the premier-class at Mugello, the 500cc race in 2000 after a race long battle with his countrymen Biaggi and Rossi, both of whom crashed in the closing stages.
  • The MotoGP race at Mugello in 2004 is the shortest ever premier-class grand prix race. The race lasted just six laps taking 12 minutes 6.803 seconds, after the first attempt to run the race was stopped due to rain and then restarted for the remaining laps under the rain rules as they stood at that time.
  • Italy, together with The Netherlands and Great Britain are the only three countries that have hosted a motorcycle grand prix event in each year since the motorcycling world championship series started in 1949.
  • The MotoGP race victories at Mugello in the sixteen years since it was introduced as the premier-class of grand prix racing are shared by just six riders: Valentino Rossi (7 wins), Jorge Lorenzo (5 wins); Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso all having a single win at Mugello.
  • Five of the six riders who have won in the Moto2 class at Mugello are now competing in the MotoGP class: Andrea Iannone (2010 & 2012), Marc Marquez (2011), Scott Redding (2013), Tito Rabat (2014 & 2015) and Johann Zarco (2016). Last year’s winner Mattia Pasini is the only Moto2 winner at Mugello still competing in the class.

 

 

By | May 29th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on Mugello 2018 – Facts and Stats

THUMBS UP OR THUMBS DOWN FROM EMPEROR VALE

I was sightseeing in the magnificent City of Rome last week and every time I closed my eyes standing above the spine tingling arena of the Colosseum the same picture emerged. There was the Emperor Valentino Rossi sitting on his throne while two leather clad gladiators Marc Marquez and Casey Stoner fought below as the crowd roared their encouragement baying for their blood. After all these two gladiators had found both the bravery and skill to defy their beloved Emperor in battle. They were part of a very select band of warriors.

Back to the real world and the modern day Colosseum arena on Sunday afternoon and the HJC Helmets Grand Prix of France at a sweltering Le Mans.Marquez was a comfortable winner to secure his third win in succession on the Repsol Honda and open an impressive lead in the Championship as he chases his fifth MotoGP crown. The win equalled the 38 MotoGP victories for Stoner that brought the Australian those two World titles for both Ducati and Honda before his premature retirement.

They had arrived at different times but both still in the middle of the long Rossi revolution. While others fell by the wayside under the sheer weight of the Rossi factor both on and off the track, Marquez and Stoner stood their ground and were prepared to face the Emperor head on. Two very different characters off the track but once in the arena true gladiators who were, and in Marquez’s case are, afraid of nothing and love nothing more than a bit of hand to hand conflict. 

Their records are very similar. Marquez won those 38 grands prix in 95 races all riding the factory Honda. Stoner achieved a similar number in 115 races, 23 on the Ducati and 15 in his two years on the factory Honda. Stoner grabbed two more podiums than the current MotoGP World Champion with 69 appearances on the stage but it probably will not surprise you that there is a big difference in one department – the crashes. Stoner had his moments in that memorable seven year MotoGP career and crashed 61 times. Marquez is five races into his sixth year in MotoGP and has crashed 89 times. Crashing in his case is actually when you lose complete contact with the bike and not when you keep the bike upright with your knee, elbow or any other part of your body.  

I never got to the finish of the dream at the Colosseum  and so didn’t discover if Emperor Vale gave the thumbs up or thumbs down to decide if either Marc or Casey or probably both were thrown to the lions. Thirty eight MotoGP wins apiece I think those hungry lions would have been licking their lips at the prospect.

By | May 24th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|Comments Off on THUMBS UP OR THUMBS DOWN FROM EMPEROR VALE

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Of course we all loved going to Paul Ricard in the sunshine and next to the so blue Mediterranean but sometimes we so called journalists can get things out of perspective. The French MotoGP Grand Prix at Le Mans is a prime example of our somewhat one eyed opinions based on what suits us while totally losing what the event and MotoGP is all about. 

To be fair there are plenty of reasons not to enjoy Le Mans if you are working there but the event is not about us, it’s about the fans and they just love the place. Over 100,000 are expected to pack the legendary Bugatti circuit on Sunday and most of them will have been partying all weekend. For many years the French Grand Prix was drifting. Average crowds, lack of entertainment at the circuit causing problems in the town and a general feeling of the racing out on the track was enough to keep everybody happy. It was not and so they did something about it.

This weekend it could not be a greater contrast – the place will be buzzing. Rock Concerts, public autograph sessions and rider appearances, stunt shows plus the fun fair with the obligatory dodgems and big wheel gives the place more the feel of a festival until the serious business of racing gets underway. A French rider starring in the premier class where a certain Johann Zarco has propelled the popularity of the sport in his home country. After all, the last French premier class winner was Regis Laconi 19 long years ago and Zarco has reignited a flame with the French sporting public.  

Sometimes you have to forget your own problems and look at the bigger picture. I can assure you we were all fed up with the random road closures around the circuit that make the journey in a nightmare. Nobody enjoyed having a big under the influence Frenchman jumping on the bonnet of your car and then exchanging pleasantries when you protested when you left the circuit after a long day. Then there was the weather but there is nothing anybody can do about that.

Although better known for the legendary 24 hour car race, Le Mans will stage its 31th Motorcycle Grand Prix on Sunday. That first 500cc race back in 1969 was won by Giacomo Agostini as he lapped the complete field. One thing we can guarantee in the 27 lap race on Sunday is that will not happen again. The weather – we can offer no such guarantees.

Le Mans may not be everybody’s cup of tea but those 100,000 fans on Sunday will not be drinking tea, I can assure you of that.

By | May 18th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|1 Comment

Le Mans 2018 – Fast Facts

  • The win by Marc Marquez at Jerez was the 37th time he has stood on the top step of the podium in the MotoGP class, equalling the number of premier-class GP victories as MotoGP legend Mike Hailwood. He needs just one more win to equal the number of MotoGP victories achieved by Casey Stoner.
  • Johann Zarco’s 2nd place finish at Jerez was the 21st successive race where he has achieved a point scoring finish. The only race where he has failed to score points since moving up to the MotoGP class was the opening race of last year in Qatar when he crashed while leading the race.
  • Last year Zarco was in third place on the grid for his home grand prix – the first front row in the MotoGP class by a French rider since Randy de Puniet at Catalunya in 2010 and the best qualifying result in the premier-class by a French rider at his home race since Christian Sarron was on pole for the 500cc GP at Paul Ricard in 1988. His second place finish in the race made him the first French rider to finish on the podium in the premier-class at his home race since Christian Sarron was second at Paul Ricard in 1988.
  • Yamaha have gone 14 MotoGP races without a win, their longest winless sequence since the 18 race winless streak that included the last two races of 2002 and the 16 races of 2003.
  • At the French Grand Prix last year Maverick Viñales became only the ninth rider to win a MotoGP race from pole and in the process set a new lap record, joining: Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Loris Capirossi, Makoto Tamada, Andrea Iannone.
  • Jorge Lorenzo is the rider with most grand prix victories at Le Mans, having stood on the top step of the podium on six occasions at the French circuit; a single win in the 250cc class to add to his five MotoGP wins.
  • Two years ago at Le Mans, Lorenzo crossed the line 10.654 seconds ahead of Valentino Rossi; Lorenzo’s largest margin of victory in a dry MotoGP race
  • The podium finishers at the last two MotoGP races have all graduated from the Moto2 class.  Prior to the start of this year only one podium has included only riders that have graduated from Moto2 – at Misano in 2015 (Marquez, Smith, Redding).
  • The top four riders in the championship standings after the Spanish Grand Prix are riders who have graduated from the Moto2 class.
  • Maverick Viñales took the MotoGP at Le Mans last year, at the circuit where he scored his first 125cc GP win in 2011. This was the last time that Vinales has stood on the top step of the podium. Vinales also won the Moto3 race at Le Mans in 2013 and had his first MotoGP podium at the circuit in 2016 when he finished 3rd on a Suzuki.
  • Yamaha riders have taken the top two places at the French Grand Prix for the last three years.
  • Tom Luthi has had great grand prix success at Le Mans, with four victories: 125cc in 2005 & 2006, Moto2 in 2012 & 2015.
  • Rossi has had twelve podium finishes in the premier-class at Le Mans, including three victories; in 2002 riding a Honda, 2005 riding the 990cc Yamaha and in 2008 on Yamaha’s 800cc machine.
  • At the French Grand Prix Tito Rabat is scheduled to make his 200th grand prix start. Rabat has already scored 24 points in the opening four races of 2018 compared with 35 points throughout the whole of 2017.
By | May 16th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on Le Mans 2018 – Fast Facts

French Grand Prix facts and stats

  • Le Mans has hosted a grand prix event on thirty previous occasions, including the Grand Prix “Vitesse du Mans” in 1991, which is the only year that two grand prix events have been held in France in the same year.
  • Le Mans was first used for a grand prix event in 1969, when the 500cc race was won by Giacomo Agostini, who lapped all the other riders in the race on his MV Agusta.
  • This is the 19th successive year that the Le Mans circuit has hosted a motorcycle grand prix event, starting in 2000.
  • In addition to Le Mans, there have been seven other circuits that have hosted the French GP (the figure in brackets is the number of times each circuit has hosted the French Grand Prix): Paul Ricard (13), Clermont-Ferrand (10), Nogaro (2), Reims (2), Rouen (2), Albi (1), Magny-Cours (1).
  • Since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP formula in 2002 Honda have had seven wins at Le Mans, the last of which was four years ago with Marc Marquez.
  • Yamaha have had eight MotoGP wins at Le Mans, including for the last three years, 2015 & 2016 with Jorge Lorenzo and last year with Maverick Vinales.
  • Chris Vermeulen took his single MotoGP win at Le Mans in 2007 riding a Suzuki. Prior to Maverick Viñales winning at Silverstone in 2016, this was the only GP victory in the four-stroke MotoGP era for Suzuki. Viñales finished third at Le Mans in 2016 – the first MotoGP podium for Suzuki since Loris Capirossi was third at Brno in 2008.
  • The best results for Ducati at the Le Mans circuit are second place finishes for Loris Capirossi in 2006 and Valentino Rossi in 2012.
  • The only non-Spanish rider to win a MotoGP race at Le Mans in the past nine years is Casey Stoner in 2011.
  • The podium at the French Grand Prix last year (Vinales, Zarco, Pedrosa)was only the fourth since the start of 2013 that did not include one of either Marc Marquez or Valentino Rossi. The other podium in this period that did not include either of these two riders were: 2013 – Italy (Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Crutchlow), 2014 – Aragon (Lorenzo, Aleix Espargaro, Crutchlow), 2016 – Austria (Iannone, Dovizioso, Lorenzo). Two other races in 2017 had neither Rossi or Marquez on the podium: Mugello (Dovizioso, Vinales, Petrucci) and Malaysia (Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Zarco).
  • There have been five GP wins at the Le Mans circuit by French riders: Jean Aureal won the 125cc race in 1969, Guy Bertin the 125cc race in 1979, Patrick Fernandez the 350cc race in 1979, Mike di Meglio the 125cc race in 2008 and Louis Rossi the Moto3 race in 2012.
  • Of the sixteen MotoGP races held at Le Mans, nine have either started in wet conditions or rain has started during the race. The only years that the MotoGP race at Le Mans has been run under full dry conditions are: 2004, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
  • The eight Moto2 races that have taken place at Le Mans have been won by seven different riders: Toni Elias, Marc Marquez, Tom Luthi, Scott Redding, Mika Kallio, Alex Rins and Franco Morbidelli. The only rider to have more than a single Moto2 win at Le Mans is Tom Luthi. None of these Moto2 winners at Le Mans is still competing in the Moto2 class in 2018.
  • None of the eight previous Moto2 races at Le Mans has been won by the rider starting on pole position.
  • The six Moto3 races that have taken place at Le Mans have been won by six different riders: Louis Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Jack Miller, Romano Fenati, Brad Binder and Joan Mir. Only two of these victories were not on a KTM machine – Louis Rossi in 2012 riding a FTR Honda and Joan Mir last year on a Honda.

 

 

By | May 15th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|2 Comments

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON GET THE EYES WATERING

There’s nothing like those special celebrations between Phillip and Peter Oettl after the Moto3 race in Jerez to get the old eyes watering. A father celebrating with his son after his first ever grand prix win never ceases to make me feel good and emotional. Unlike many other sports grand prix motorcycle racing has produced few successful father and son grand prix winning combinations. If the sport is not tough enough already the pressure and expectations heaped on the son of a grand prix winning father must be like a lead weight in his leathers. Of course Dad can open a few extra doors, especially in the early stages, but at some point the comparisons stop and the son has to stand on his own two feet.

Like it or not many sons are just not like their Dads who sometimes just can’t understand why. In other cases they are just a chip off the old block and you recognise all those familiar traits shown at least two decades earlier. Kenny Roberts Senior and Junior seem very different characters off the track while Graziano could only be Valentino Rossi’s Dad.

Without a doubt the most difficult steps to follow must have been if your father had been killed racing which, perhaps for the wrong reasons, increased their status to legendary proportions. Twenty years ago I worked closely with Formula One World Champions Damon Hill and Jacque Villeneuve. Graham Hill had been killed in a plane crash and Gilles Villeneuve in a grand prix and I probably more than anybody at the time, to satisfy the insatiable needs of the media and sponsors, had to constantly ask them about their legendary fathers. Like it or not they were being compared, but both in very different ways followed their own paths to World Championship success. It must have been so tough at times.

This has only happened once on two wheels. Les Graham was the very first 500cc World Champion in 1949 but was tragically killed at the TT in the Isle of Man in 1953. Fourteen years later in 1967 his son Stuart returned to the Isle of Man to win the 50cc race for Suzuki and the 125 cc Finnish Grand Prix at another road circuit in Imatra before turning to four wheels for further success.

There must have been something special in that 1949 air because the very first 125 cc Champion, Italian Nello Pagani, who also finished second behind Graham in the 500cc class, also produced a grand prix winning son. Alberto Pagani won three 500cc grands prix in the late sixties and early seventies but probably the toughest act to follow was the daunting task of Pablo Nieto. Pure bad luck and mechanical problems seemed to form an impregnable barrier to that grand prix win but finally in 2003 he won the 125 cc race at Estoril in Portugal. At last a father and son win to celebrate with his 13 times World Champion Spanish legend Angel, who certainly had learnt the art of celebrating 90 grand prix victories over the last three decades.

Stefan Bradl went one better than Dad Helmut by winning the 2011 Moto2 World Championship. Twenty years earlier Helmut had finished runner–up in the 250 cc Championship winning five grands prix that year but the only father and son to win world titles remains in the very firm grip of the incredible Roberts family. Kenny Senior the brash outspoken genius who changed the very face of grand prix racing and Kenny Junior, who shunned the limelight.

What a racing family. Chalk and Cheese off the track but cheese and cheese plus a few biscuits on it.

By | May 10th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|Comments Off on LIKE FATHER LIKE SON GET THE EYES WATERING

BITE ON THE BOTTOM

Imagine having a corner named after your good self to celebrate your career. It must be the ultimate accolade but the timing is vital.  At Jerez they go to town with the corners around this superb MotoGP venue. Why not celebrate the World Championship successes of Sito Pons, Jorge Martinez, Angel Nieto, Alex Criville and Jorge Lorenzo at the home of the Spanish Grand Prix? The only problem is what corner to give your name to and the timing of the ceremony.

The collective likes of Pons, Martinez, Nieto and Criville collected an impressive 22 World titles between them and more importantly had hung up their leathers before the naming ceremony. Five years ago Jorge Lorenzo, who at the time had won four World titles and made his grand prix debut at Jerez 11 years earlier, had the infamous turn 13 named in his honour.

This was the tight left hander into the finishing straight that had produced more drama and controversy in one lap than some other motorsport championships produce in a complete season. It took just three days for the newly named Jorge Lorenzo corner to reap its revenge and bite its new owner on the bottom. Let’s be honest he’d had plenty of warning.

They still argue about 1996 in this part of the world. Local hero Alex Criville declared the winner of an epic battle with World Champion Mick Doohan by the circuit announcer. The problem was there was still one lap of the 4.423 kms circuit remaining. He’d jumped the gun big style and the ecstatic Spanish fans climbed the fences onto the track to celebrate with their man. As they approached the dreaded turn 13 both Doohan and Criville had to almost weave their way through flag waving fans. When they arrived at the final corner of the 27 lap race, circuit announcer please note, it all kicked off. The two riders touched, Criville went down and Doohan won the race. Criville remounted to finish fourth and the crowd was angry, very angry not that it fussed Doohan one little bit.

Fast forward 19 years. No wrong lap timing by the circuit announcer this time but yet again a Spanish rider coming off second best at turn 13. Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau had long ceased their early friendship and this was a classic duel with a real personal feel. Same old story, last lap turn 13. Rossi up the inside on the brakes, they touched or perhaps clashed. Gibernau ran onto the grass and Rossi won the race. Gibernau stormed up pit line to register his annoyance and Rossi, with 25 precious Championship points, just smiled.

It was about as inevitable as a Doohan grand prix win that Lorenzo would not escape the wrath of turn 13 the weekend he took over its stewardship. Of course it had to be the last lap and this time a fight for second place with the new kid on the block Marc Marquez. They touched; Marquez grabbed second behind Dani Pedrosa and a steaming Lorenzo was third.

Having a corner named in your honour must be so special. Rossi and Marquez will surely be bestowed such an honour but wisely they will wait until they have turned their last wheel in battle. Also they will make their choice of corner a number one priority.

We could think of a few but not the same one for sure.

By | May 4th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|1 Comment