Monthly Archives: July 2018

Pedrosa’s pure bad luck

Is there such a thing as pure bad luck? In Dani Pedrosa’s case I think there is. Surely the biggest question mark surrounding last week’s retirement announcement by Dani must be how a rider with such an amazing record never won the MotoGP™ World title that he so richly deserved.

Only 15 times World Champion Giacomo Agostini has matched Dani by winning a premier class race for 12 successive seasons and the Spanish Honda rider is the only rider in the 70 year history of the sport to have won a Grand Prix for 16 successive seasons. The records continue to tumble.

Only Agostini and Valentino Rossi have secured more Grand Prix podiums while only nine times World Champion Rossi has secured more premier class podiums. He is the fourth youngest premier class race winner behind Marc Marquez, Freddie Spencer and Norick Abe and won the same number of Grands Prix as five times World Champion Mick Doohan and premier class Grands Prix as four times World Champion Eddie Lawson. His 54 Grands Prix wins equal Doohan while he equals the Australian as the most successful Honda Grand Prix rider of all time.

Following his 125cc and two 250cc World titles we just waited for the MotoGP™ crown to follow, especially after that first win at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix – it never came, but why? Two never forgotten images sum up the career to me of surely one of the most underestimated and unlucky riders in the 70 year history of Grand Prix racing.

His smile as he entered the press conference at Misano two years ago after he’d left the greats including Lorenzo, Rossi and Marquez trailing in his wake by nearly three seconds on the Adriatic coast. His separate overtaking manoeuvres on the three World Champions came right out of the Marquez and Rossi textbook and merited his smile. Once again Dani had shown the world and his critics he could on his day match and beat the very best in the world.

Roll back the clock almost 13 years as the helicopter took off from Phillip Island bound for the hospital in Melbourne. Five days earlier the fresh faced teenager had clinched the first of three world titles with a 125cc victory at Sepang in Malaysia. In the first practice session for the Australian Grand Prix from the commentary box it looked a pretty standard crash as he slid off at the bottom of Lukey Heights in the cool conditions but as we learned so many times there is hardly ever a standard crash for Dani. He broke both his ankles as he slid into the barrier and his season and World Championship celebrations came to a premature end. When he crashed he hurt himself and throughout that 12 year MotoGP™ career it was so often not his fault. When it was where other walked away to fight another day Dani was on the plane back to Barcelona to mend broken bones.

His brilliant teammate Marquez was not giving anybody else a chance but I so wanted Dani to win at the Sachsenring on Sunday. He still has time in the remaining four months of an amazing career before giving that much repaired body the rest it deserves.

By | July 19th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|1 Comment

German Grand Prix 2018 – Fast Facts

  • The MotoGP podium at the Dutch TT had the youngest average age since the Dutch TT two years earlier when Jack Miller won from Marc Marquez and Scott Redding.
  • The podium at the Dutch TT: Marquez (Honda), Rins (Suzuki) and Vinales (Yamaha) was the first all-Spanish podium in the premier-class with the three riders on bikes from three different manufacturers.
  • With Andrea Dovizioso finishing fourth at the Dutch TT on a Ducati, it was the third time in MotoGP this year that four different manufacturers had filled the top four places.
  • Dani Pedrosa, the 15th place finisher at the Dutch TT, crossed the line just 16.043 seconds behind race winner Marc Marquez. This is a new record for the closest top 15 finishers in a premier-class grand prix, taking the record from the opening race of this year in Qatar when 23.287 second covered the first 15 riders across the line.
  • With four different manufacturers filling the top four places at the Dutch TT and Pol Espargaro taking the first KTM across the line in 13th place just one place ahead of his brother Aleix on the first Aprilia home, there were six different manufacturers covered by less than sixteen seconds.  Never before in the previous 865 premier-class grand prix races in the 70 year history of the world championship series have six manufacturers finished within 16 seconds of the winner.
  • The rider with most victories at the new Sachsenring circuit is Marc Marquez with eight wins (1 x 125cc, 2 x Moto2, 5 x MotoGP), followed by Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa with six wins (2x 250cc, 4 x MotoGP).
  • In each of the last eight years at the Sachsenring Marc Marquez has qualified on pole and won the race; 2010 in the 125cc class, 2011 & 2012 in Moto2 and for the last four years in MotoGP.
  • Sachsenring is the only circuit on the 2017 schedule where Honda have won in the MotoGP class for each of the last eight years – three wins by Dani Pedrosa followed by five wins for Marc Marquez.
  • Valentino Rossi was the last non-Honda rider to win at the Sachsenring – in 2009 on a Yamaha.
  • With Danilo Petrucci crashing out at Assen, the only rider who has scored points at MotoGP all races so far in 2018 is Maverick Vinales who has scored points at the last 18 races.
  • Yamaha have gone 18 MotoGP races without a win, since the Dutch TT last year. This is equals their longest winless sequence in the MotoGP era that included the last two races of 2002 and the 16 races of 2003. The last time Yamaha went more than 18 races without a premier-class win was when Honda set a record 22 race winning streak which included all of the 15 races of 1997 plus the first 7 races of 1998. This streak was ended with a win by Simon Crafar on a Yamaha at Donington.
  • The second place finish by Alex Rins at the Dutch TT is the best result for a Suzuki rider since Maverick Vinales won at Silverstone in 2016.
  • All three races at the last two events have been won by the rider starting from pole position. This six race streak of winners from pole is the longest since 2010, when there was also a six race winning streak from pole. The last time that a more than six successive GP races have been won from pole was in 1991; the 500cc race in Japan, all three races in Australia the two races at Laguna Seca and first two races at Jerez.

 

By | July 13th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on German Grand Prix 2018 – Fast Facts

THE COURSE OF HISTORY

As World Championship motorcycle racing prepares to bake the cake to celebrate its 70th birthday next year nowhere reflects the history of Europe more than the Sachsenring circuit. Seven decades of conflict, divide and ultimately unification played out on and around the tarmac snaking through the forest above the town of Hohenstein – Ernsttal.

 The East German Grand that ran from behind the Iron Curtain between 1961 until 1972.The nearby MZ factory who took on the world from their humble premises to pioneer the two-stroke racing engine. The defection of their talisman Ernst Degner with the MZ secrets to Suzuki, the playing of the West German National anthem after the 1971 250 cc victory of Dieter Braun and finally the return as the German Grand Prix in 1998 tells so much. Throughout it was Motorcycle racing that provided a ray of light and hope for the millions of people caught in the web of post war conflict and divide. They have never forgotten.     

Folklore tells us every week for the last 69 years a fresh bunch of flowers is carefully laid on the simple stone memorial in the woods on the twisty undulating road near the entrance to the Sachsenring. Certainly there was a fresh bunch of locally picked flowers there last year as we drove through the forest on the old road circuit on route to the first day of practice for the German Grand Prix at the new Sachsenring.

Fifteen hundred kilometres away, across Europe and across both the North and Irish seas another memorial to the same person glints in some rare Isle of Man sunshine. On the famous mountain climb out of Ramsey looking back towards the Point of Ayre a kiln of stones is lovingly preserved to commemorate the life of a great motor cycle racer and six times TT winner.

On the eighth of August 1937 40 year old Scotsman Jimmy Guthrie was leading the German Grand Prix on the Sachsenring road circuit. Riding the Norton he was chasing his third successive victory in Germany where the rumble of war was looming fast. He’d already taken 19 grand prix victories and going into the last lap was leading comfortably. The 300,000 crowd packed around the 8.73 kms long road circuit that cut through the woods and around the hills surrounding the city of Hohenstein – Ernsttal, situated between Dresden and Leipzig prepared to celebrate.  He never arrived at the finish. Guthrie died in hospital after crashing into the woods on that fateful last lap.

 A year later World War two was declared and the Hohenstein-Ernstthal area around the Sachsenring was never going to be the same. When World War two ended they found themselves part of East Germany, a very different place to where they lived before war started. However, the people had never forgotten a Scottish gentleman who won two grands prix at their circuit before the hostilities split the world wide apart. In 1949 a memorial at the location he crashed was their own special tribute to him.

Colour, creed or nationality made no difference. He was their motorcycle racing hero.

By | July 12th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|1 Comment

German Grand Prix 2018 – facts and stats

  • The 2018 German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring will be the 80th Grand Prix event to be held on German soil
  • The first motorcycle Grand Prix to be held in Germany was the West German Grand Prix held at the Solitude circuit in 1952, when it was reported that 400,000 spectators turned up to watch.  Ireland’s Reg Armstrong won the 350cc and 500cc races riding Nortons.  The home crowd had plenty to cheer, with Rudi Felgenheier winning the 250cc race on a DKW and Werner Haas winning the 125cc race on a NSU.
  • The first East German Grand Prix was held at the Sachsenring road circuit in 1961. The original circuit used for this event was a closed road circuit 8.73km in length. The East German GP continued to be held at the Sachsenring each year until 1972, after which the original road circuit was considered too dangerous for Grand Prix racing.
  • The West German Grand Prix was held every year from 1952 through to 1990, when East and West joined to become a unified Germany. Four different circuits were used during this period 1952 to 1990: Solitude, Schotten, Nurburgring and Hockenheim.
  • There has been a German Grand Prix held every year since unification; from 1991 to 1994 at the Hockenheim circuit, followed by three years at the Nurburgring and since 1998 at the new Sachsenring circuit.
  • In addition to those mentioned above, one other Grand Prix event has been held in Germany: The Baden-Wurtemberg GP held in 1986 at the Hockenheim circuit for just the 80cc and 125cc classes.
  • The newly built Sachsenring circuit was initially just 3.508km long when first opened in 1998, with one short section of track from the old road circuit. Major modifications to the circuit in 2001 and then additional slight alterations in 2003 resulted in the current 3.671 km track layout.
  • The Sachsenring is one of just five circuits on the current grand prix schedule that run in an anti-clockwise direction, along with Austin, Aragon, Phillip Island and Valencia.
  • This will be the 21st successive year that a grand prix event has been held at the new Sachsenring circuit.
  • Since Grand Prix racing returned to the Sachsenring circuit in 1998 there have been seven podium finishes by home riders: Ralf Waldmann was third in the 250cc race in 1999, Steve Jenkner was third in the 125cc race in 2002, Stefan Bradl finished second in the 125cc category in 2008, Sandro Cortese finished third in the 125cc race in 2010, Stefan Bradl was second in 2011 in Moto2, in 2012 Sandro Cortese won the Moto3 race; Jonas Folger was 2nd in the Moto2 race in 2016 and 2nd in the MotoGP race last year.
  • Since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP class in 2002, Honda have been the most successful manufacturer at the Sachsenring with twelve wins, including the last eight years.
  • Yamaha have had three wins at this circuit, the last of which was with Valentino Rossi in 2009, which was also the last MotoGP win in Germany by a non-Honda rider.
  • Ducati’s single MotoGP victory in Germany was with Casey Stoner in 2008. Andrea Doviziosos’s third place finish two years ago is the only podium for a Ducati rider at the Sachsenring circuit since Casey Stoner was third in 2010.
  • Honda riders have also qualified on pole for the German GP for the last seven years; the last non-Honda rider to start from pole for a MotoGP race at the Sachsenring was Jorge Lorenzo in 2010 on a Yamaha.
  • The only podium finish for Suzuki in Germany in the MotoGP era is when Chris Vermeulen finished third in 2008.
  • The rider with most victories at the new Sachsenring circuit is Marc Marquez with eight wins (1 x 125cc, 2 x Moto2, 5 x MotoGP), followed by Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa with six wins (2x 250cc, 4 x MotoGP).
  • The eight Moto2 races at the Sachsenring have been won by seven different riders: Toni Elias (2010), Marc Marquez (2011 & 2012), Jordi Torres (2013), Dominique Aegerter (2014), Xavier Simeon (2015), Johann Zarco (2016) and Franco Morbidelli (2017). All of these eight Moto2 wins have been from the front row of the grid.
  • The six Moto3 races at the Sachsenring have been won by six different riders: Sandro Cortese, Alex Rins, Jack Miller, Danny Kent, Khairul Idham Pawi and Joan Mir. None of these rider still compete full-time in the Moto3 class.

 

By | July 11th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on German Grand Prix 2018 – facts and stats

Closest top 15 of all-time

Dani Pedrosa finished the Dutch TT in 15th place, crossing the line just 16.043 seconds behind race winner Marc Marquez – the closest top fifteen of all-time in a full length premier-class grand prix. This breaks the record set at the opening race of 2018 in Qatar.

The following list shows the ten closest top fifteen finishes of all-time in the premier-class of grand prix racing, three of which are from the opening eight races of 2018 and four from 2017, showing just how competitive MotoGP is currently.  (Only races that have completed full race distance are considered for inclusion in the following table):

  Year Circuit Race winner Time covering first 15 riders across the line (sec)
1 2018 ASSEN Marc Marquez 16.043
2 2018 LOSAIL Andrea Dovizioso 23.287
3 2017 ARAGON Marc Marquez 26.082
4 2017 PHILLIP ISLAND Marc Marquez 26.168
5 2018 MUGELLO Jorge Lorenzo 26.644
6 2017 RED BULL RING Andrea Dovizioso 28.096
7 2006 BRNO Loris Capirossi 29.296
8 2001 PHILLIP ISLAND Valentino Rossi 29.738
9 2005 BRNO Valentino Rossi 29.768
10 2017 MUGELLO Andrea Dovizioso 30.779

 

By | July 6th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on Closest top 15 of all-time

F1 AT ASSEN – SO MUCH TO LIVE UP TO

I don’t know if Assen will ever stage a Formula One car Grand Prix but if four wheels do ever grace the hallowed tarmac they will have one hell of a legacy to live up to. Never was that fact better illustrated than the classic Assen 26 lap encounter on Sunday – just ask the 100,00 fans who packed the Cathedral for a typical Sunday service.

While F1 struggled to keep the three leading cars on the same lap at the Austrian A1 ring just 16.4 seconds separated the first 16 riders in the 118.92 kms MotoGP Assen showdown. The closest ever first 15 finish in the 70 year history of the Premier class (more detail here :http://www.nick-harris.co.uk/closest-top-15-of-all-time/  )It was what Assen is all about. Constant overtaking, more than a few contacts at the front as eight riders fought for the lead. Four different Manufacturers filling the first four places. It was breath taking stuff around a track that still retains those corners that make it so special. No wonder it’s the only circuit remaining from that original 1949 World Championship calendar.

So a perfect day for the massive Dutch crowd in the glorious sunshine – well not quite. While the talented Max Verstappen brought out the orange flags at the A1 ring with his first Formula One win of the season there was no such celebrating at Assen. To be honest while Assen retains the rightful position as the biggest sporting event of the year in Holland it’s despite the total lack of success of Dutch riders on the World stage. The bare facts make it even more amazing how the Dutch fans have stuck with MotoGP because their last grand prix win came 28 barren years ago.

Hans Spaan won the 125 cc race at the 1990 Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno and that was that. He almost became the first Dutch World Champion since Henk van Kessel took the 50cc World for Kreidler 16 years earlier. It was close and went all the way to the wire and the final round at Phillip Island in Australia where Loris Capirossi, who clinched the title and his Italian mates, ganged up on the lone Dutchman. Nine years later Jürgen van der Goobergh at the same Brno circuit was the last Dutchman to start from pole position when he put that super quick MUZ – Weber on top in the 500 cc class. We have to look back almost two years for the last Dutch rider to finish on the podium when Bo Bendsneyder riding the KTM finished third in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. 

Lewis Hamilton racing through Veenslang just sounds wrong, Max Verstappen through Stekkenwal perhaps has a better ring about it but Marquez, Rins, Vinales, Dovizioso, Rossi, Crutchlow, Lorenzo and Zarco though Ramshoek an absolute dead cert even for those success starved Dutch fans.

 

By | July 6th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|Comments Off on F1 AT ASSEN – SO MUCH TO LIVE UP TO