Martin Raines Blog

Valentino Rossi career facts, stats and trivia

  • Rossi and Phil Read are the only riders to win world titles in the 125, 250 and 500cc classes. (Note: Marquez has won titles in 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP)
  • Valentino Rossi is the only rider to have won World Championships in four classes: 125, 250, 500 and MotoGP.
  • Rossi and Giacomo Agostini are the only two riders to have won premier-class titles on both 2-stoke and 4-stroke machinery.
  • His win at the 2004 season-opening GP in South Africa made him the first rider to take back-to-back premier-class victories on different makes of bike.
  • In 2004 he became only the second rider to win back-to-back premier-class titles on different makes of machinery.  Eddie Lawson was the first, winning on a Yamaha in 1988 and a Honda in 1989.
  • He holds the record for successive premier-class podiums, scoring 23 successive top-three results from the Portuguese GP in 2002 to the South Africa GP in 2004.
  • Rossi had the honour of scoring the 500th victory for Honda when he won the Japanese 500cc GP in April 2001.
  • He is the only rider to win the premier-class title on four different types of motorcycle: 500cc 2-stroke Honda, 990cc 4-stoke Honda, 990cc 4-stroke Yamaha, 800cc 4-stroke Yamaha.
  • Rossi has won GP races on seven different motorcycles: 125cc Aprilia, 250cc Aprilia, 500cc Honda, 990cc Honda, 990cc Yamaha, 800cc Yamaha and 1000cc Yamaha.
  • His eleven wins in 2005 is the highest number of premier-class victories in a single season by a Yamaha rider
  • He is the only rider to win five or more successive premier-class races on a Yamaha.
  • He is the only rider in history to have won five or more successive races on two different makes of bike (Yamaha and Honda).
  • He is Yamaha’s most successful rider of all-time with 56 race victories on their bikes.
  • His 89 race victories in the premier-class are more than any other rider in the history of Grand Prix racing (second on this list is Giacomo Agostini with 68 premier-class wins).
  • He has won 115 GP races across the three classes.  Only Giacomo Agostini with 122 wins has stood on the top step of the podium more in grand prix racing.
  • Valentino Rossi’s third place finish at Jerez in 2020 was the 199th time he has stood on the podium in the premier-class, more than any other rider (second on this list is Jorge Lorenzo with 114 premier-class podiums).
  • He has been on the podium 235 times across all classes, which is more than any other rider in the history of Grand Prix racing (second on this list is Giacomo Agostini with 159 Grand Prix podiums).
  • The Valencia GP will be Rossi’s 432nd Grand Prix start. This means that he has taken part in 44.4% of all grand prix events that have taken place since the world championship series began in 1949. (The rider with second most GP starts is Andrea Dovizioso with 332 by the end of 2021).
  • Rossi’s final total of premier-class GP starts will be 372 including the race in Valencia; this is more than any other rider (second in the list is Alex Barros with 245 premier-class GP starts).
  • Rossi has the longest wining career in the premier-class of GP racing, with his latest win at the Dutch TT in 2017 coming 16 years 351 days after his first 500cc GP win at Donington in 2000 (the rider with second longest winning career in the premier-class is Alex Barros – 11 years 204 days).
  • He also has the longest winning GP career across all classes; 20 years 311 days between his first GP victory in the 125cc class at Brno in 1997 and his last GP win at Assen in 2017 (second in this regard is Loris Capirossi with a GP winning career of 17 years 49 days).
  • During his career Rossi has competed at 38 different grand prix circuits.
  • Of these 38 circuits, he has taken at least one GP win at 29 of the circuits.  No other rider in the history of motorcycle grand prix racing has won at as many different circuits as Rossi.
  • The circuits at which Rossi has had most GP wins are Catalunya and Assen where he has won ten times at each of these two circuit. 
  • In the premier-class Rossi has competed at 29 different circuits.
  • He has won in the premier-class at 23 of these 29 circuits.
  • The circuit where Rossi has had most premier-class wins is Assen, with eight.
  • The circuit at which Rossi has made most grand prix appearances is Jerez, where he has made  27 GP starts across the three classes, including 23 in the premier-class.
  • During his Grand Prix career Rossi has shared the podium with 55 different riders. The rider he has stood on the podium with most often is Jorge Lorenzo – 53 times.
  • In the premier-class Rossi has shared the podium with 38 different riders.
  • The last time that Rossi shared a podium with a rider older than himself was at the 2008 Czech Grand Prix, that rider being Loris Capirossi.
  • With Valencia being Valentino Rossi’s last event it will very likely be the last time that a rider born in the 1970s will start a Grand Prix race.
  • There are three riders Rossi has shared a premier-class podium with without standing on a higher step: Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo and Stefan Bradl.
By |2021-11-09T11:06:22+00:00November 9th, 2021|Martin Raines Blog, Uncategorised|Comments Off on Valentino Rossi career facts, stats and trivia

Silverstone – The First Ten Years

The first Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone was in 1977, when the British round of the world championship was moved from its previously traditional home of the Isle of Man TT circuit.  The Grand Prix was held for ten successive years at the Northampton circuit, before moving to Donington:

1977 – This was the final race of the season and British hopes were high for a win in the 500cc class by a home rider, with reigning champion Barry Sheene qualifying on pole on his factory Suzuki.  However Sheene retired with mechanical problems on lap nine.  This left the door open for team-mate Steve Parrish to lead the race into the closing stages only to crash with a couple of laps to go.  Fellow Britain John Williams then moved into the lead before he also crashed out.  Finally the third factory Suzuki rider, American Pat Hennen, took the victory.  Kork Ballington had a double victory in the 350cc and 250cc classes on his private Yamaha machines and in the 125cc race, Pierluigi Conforti took his only ever GP victory.

1978 – The 500cc GP ended in chaos, after rain started to fall mid-way through the race.  With no specific rules to deal with such a situation, the riders had to enter the pits to change tyres.  Barry Sheene (Suzuki) was by far the quickest rider after the tyre change but suffered with a pit stop that took over 7 minutes.  By contrast the eventual winner Kenny Roberts (Yamaha) was in the pits for less than 3 minutes.  Splitting these two riders on the podium was Britain’s Steve Manship, who had gambled on starting the race with intermediate tyres.  Kork Ballington (Kawasaki) won the 350cc race from British riders Tom Herron and Mick Grant.  Toni Mang scored the first of his record 33 victories in the 250cc class, with Herron once again finishing second.  Angel Nieto won the 125cc race riding a Minarelli from British rider Clive Horton.

1979 – The two top riders of the day, Barry Sheene and Kenny Roberts, exchanged the lead throughout the 500cc race.  Roberts eventually took the win by 0.03 seconds in one of the closest finishes of all-time.  In the 250cc race Morbidelli factory rider Graziano Rossi (Valentino’s father) fell on the final lap of the race when holding a two second lead.  Kork Ballington (Kawasaki) took advantage of Rossi’s misfortune to win the race and then did the double by winning the 350cc race.  Angel Nieto repeated his 125cc victory of the previous year.

1980 – After a great battle early in the 500cc race, Randy Mamola (Suzuki) pulled clear of fellow American Kenny Roberts to win the race with Marco Lucchinelli finishing third and Graziano Rossi finishing fourth.  Toni Mang (Kawasaki) won the 350cc race and Kork Ballington (Kawasaki) was once again victorious in the 250cc class.  In the 125cc class Loris Reggiani (Minarelli) took his first ever Grand Prix win.

1981 – The edge was taken of this race as early as the third lap when race leader and pole position man Graeme Crosby crashed and took out Barry Sheene and forced championship leader Marco Lucchinelli into the catch fencing.  Dutchman Jack Middelburg (Suzuki) went on to win the race from Randy Mamola and Kenny Roberts.  This was the last time that a premier-class GP race was won by a true privateer rider.  Toni Mang (Kawasaki) won both the 350cc and 250cc race.  The home crowd were given something to cheer with Keith Huewen finishing second in the 350cc race.  Angel Nieto (Minarelli) won in the 125cc class at Silverstone for the third time.

1982 –   Barry Sheene had a huge crash in practice that eliminated him from the 500cc race and Kenny Roberts’ race was short lived with a crash at the first corner.  With his two main challengers out of the race, Franco Uncini (Suzuki) cruised to a comfortable victory which effectively sealed the world title.  Jean-Francois Balde (Kawasaki) won a tremendous 350cc race and Martin Wimmer (Yamaha) won the 250cc race from pole having crashed out of the earlier 350cc race which he also started from pole.  Angel Nieto won the 125cc race once again – this time riding a Garelli.

1983 – The 500cc race was run in two parts, after the race had been stopped due to a big crash in which Norman Brown and Peter Huber lost their lives.  Kenny Roberts took overall victory from great rival Freddie Spencer with Randy Mamola making it an all USA podium.  There was an historic win in the 250cc race with Jacque Bolle giving Pernod their one and only GP victory.  Angel Nieto won the 125cc race at Silverstone for the fifth time.

1984 – Riding as a replacement for the injured Freddie Spencer, Randy Mamola won first time out on the V-four Honda from fellow American Eddie Lawson and British rider Ron Haslam.  Christian Sarron (Yamaha) won the 250cc race on the way to taking the world title and Angel Nieto won the 125cc race and in doing so clinched his 13th and last world title.

1985 – In horrendously wet conditions, Freddie Spencer (Honda) won the 500cc race after finishing fourth in the earlier 250cc race to clinch the world championship title.  British rider Alan Carter had led the 250cc race until mid distance before crashing and re-starting to finish seventh.  Toni Mang (Honda) took the 250cc race victory from Reinhold Roth and Manfred Herweh in an all German podium.  Austrian rider August Auinger (Monnet) won the 125cc race.

1986 – As in the previous year, the event was held in terrible wet weather.  Wayne Gardner (Honda) had a start to finish win in the main race after starting from pole position.  Winner of the 250cc race was Dominique Sarron (Honda) – brother of the winner of the race in 1984.  Alan Carter crashed out of the 250cc race once again; this time on the last lap while challenging for the lead.  August Auinger (Bartol) repeated his 125cc win of the previous year.  History was made in the 80cc race held in the dry weather on Saturday, when Ian McConnachie (Krauser) became the only British rider to win a Grand Prix race for solo motorcycles around the Silverstone circuit.

By |2021-08-26T19:03:44+00:00August 26th, 2021|Martin Raines Blog, Uncategorised|Comments Off on Silverstone – The First Ten Years

Where have all the Aliens gone….

“Those guys are riding as if from a different planet…” this was the comments made about a select group off riders in MotoGP, who every week seemed to be in a class of their own. This quickly moved-on to these riders being dubbed the “Aliens”. Initially this group of riders consisted of Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo; when Stoner retired at the end of 2012 he was replaced by Marc Marquez, who quickly established himself as one of the group. The following table shows how this group of riders dominated the MotoGP podiums, starting in 2006 when Rossi was joined by Pedrosa and Stoner.

Year

Percentage of MotoGP podiums taken by the “Aliens”

2006

37.2

2007

55.5

2008

81.5

2009

86.3

2010

81.5

2011

70.6

2012

79.6

2013

90.7

2014

88.9

2015

77.8

2016

64.8

2017

55.5

2018

42.6

2019

35.1

2020

2.4

In 2006 Valentino Rossi was was already a five time premier-class world champion and he was joined that year in MotoGP by both Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. Pedrosa made an immediate impact and eight podium finishes in his rookie season, including two victories. Stoner’s impact was less immediate, finding it tough going on Michelin tyres and a satellite bike, managing a single podium finish in Turkey. In 2007 these two riders really got into their stride with Stoner winning the title from Pedrosa, with Rossi coming in third. The opening race of that year in Qatar was a sign of things to come, and the first podium consisting of three Aliens: Stoner from Rossi and Pedrosa in 3rd. That year these three rider took more than 50% of the podiums on offer.

The real domination of MotoGP by an elite group of riders became evident in 2008, when they were joined by Jorge Lorenzo. These four Aliens took more than 80% of all the podium places that year, with nine of the 18 races resulting in all Alien podiums.

This domination continued through the next seven year, with the addition of Marquez to the ranks to replace Stoner in 2013. As shown in the above table, there was a dip in 2011 and 2012 when Rossi went to Ducati and finished on the podium just three times over the two years. The 2013 and 2014 seasons were particularly dominated by the group of four riders. In 2013 they took 49 of the 54 podium places available (the others going to – Cal Crutchlow x 4, Stefan Bradl x 1, perhaps Crutchlow at that stage was the best of the Earthlings?). In 2014 just 6 podium finishes went to riders other than the Aliens (Andrea Dovizioso – 2, Alvaro Bautista – 1, Aleix Espargaro – 1, Crutchlow – 1, Bradley Smith – 1).

The domination of the elite group was starting to crack in 2016, when a record nine different rider stood on the top step of the podium and a new wave of riders challenged the established order. As shown above, this trend has continued and last year the Aliens could muster only one podium in total, due to the retirement of Pedrosa and Lorenzo, the injury to Marquez and the ageing of the founding member of the group, Rossi.

Of course it may be speculated that the DNA of these five riders have spread throughout the MotoGP field (not literally of course!), raising the level of all. And there is evidence to support this; Pedrosa having no podium finishes in 2018, Lorenzo none in 2019, Rossi now thirteen races with just one top ten finish. So rather than the Aliens losing their superpowers, is it that others have raised their game; maybe the invasion has been successful and they are all Aliens now?

By |2021-06-07T19:49:25+00:00June 7th, 2021|Martin Raines Blog, Uncategorised|Comments Off on Where have all the Aliens gone….

Top 10 motorcycling books

Here are a selection of the best motorcycling books that you can enjoy while we #StayAtHome. Which books would you have on your list?

Nick’s picks:

WAYNE RAINEY HIS OWN STORY – MIKE SCOTT
I will never forget that cloud of numbed silence that engulfed the Misano paddock on September 5, 1993. Nobody could or wanted to believe the news about Wayne. His life before the accident and even more after is vividly illustrated in a way that only Michael Scott can portray. A stunning read about darkness, courage and love.

THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES – CHE GUEVARA
It was only when I read the book that I realised I had ridden a large part this legend’s route through Argentina. In 1982 Peter Clifford and myself embarked on an incredible motorcycle journey from Buenos Aires to Chile before the Argentinian Grand Prix. Guevara’s steed was a 1939 500cc Norton nicknamed Poderosa 11. We rode a lot more modern Hondas. He went onto lead the revolution while our main worry was getting out of Argentina before the Falkland Islands War started.

THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE RACING – MIKE HAILWOOD AND MURRAY WALKER
This was my bible when I was growing up thinking that I was going to be a motorcycle racer. Those dreams ended in a muddy ditch beside Tumbledown Hill just outside my home village. I’d followed Hailwood’s advice about riding fast in the wet and discovered that I neither had the skill of courage to follow in his footsteps. Not many or if any others did.

STEALING SPEED – MAT OXLEY
This could have been a John L’Carre novel, but it was a true story brilliantly conveyed by my old friend Mat Oxley. In 1961 Ernst Degner defected to the West after the Swedish Grand Prix. Not only did the rider and his family defect but he brought with him all the two-stroke secrets from the East German MZ factory which he gave to Suzuki ultimately leading to World Championship success for both the rider and factory. Even John Le Carre would have struggled to make this story up.

THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN – ROGER DONALDSON
What an inspiration this book about New Zealander Burt Munroe is to everybody and especially to people of my age. Burt Munroe followed his dream of setting a world speed record on his home built Indian Motorcycle. He defied all the odds to build the bike, travel to America and then ride to a new world record. Both the film starring Anthony Hopkins and the book graphically illustrate that you must never give up on your dream.

Martin’s picks:

STORY SO FAR – BARRY SHEENE
Like Valentino Rossi now, Barry Sheene was a rider whose fame went far beyond the world of motorcycling as well as a rider who came out on top of the 500cc world championship in both 1976 and 1977. This book was published after his World title win in 1976 and covers his rise to fame as well as his World Championship endeavours. The book is special to me as it covers the time when I first started to attend race events – the first of which was at Oulton Park in Easter 1972 when the young Sheene racing in white leathers stormed to victory in the 250cc and 500cc races. From that event onwards I was hooked!

TECHNIQUES OF MOTORCYCLE RACING – KENNY ROBERTS
This the modern version of the Murray Walker book that Nick has in his list. Written by Roberts in conjunction with Peter Clifford, who adds the engineering expertise, this book explains the physics of racing technique. When he arrived in Europe Roberts changed the approach to racing and this book explains how he did it, with a more analytical approach to understanding why and how a motorcycle responds as it does.

THE AGE OF SUPERHEROES – MAT OXLEY
If a photo can tell a thousand words then this is the book that confirms it – but in addition to those wonderful photos Mat, in his usual brilliant way, tells the story behind the photos. If you want to read about those heroes who rode the 500cc monsters without any electronic aids – then this is the book for you.

THE PRIVATEER – JON EKEROLD
In my 48 years of watching motorcycle racing, there may have been harder racers than Jon Ekerold – but I am not sure who they would be. In the 70s and 80s racing was very different from it is now: it was possible to go GP racing with a couple privately owned machines and a transit van. The existence was very much hand-to-mouth and the prize and start money from one race paid for the fuel to get to the next one. Jon Ekerold was one of many such racers, but one of the few to win a World title. This book tells the real story of Grand Prix racing in that era.

JARNO SAARINEN – KLAAS TJASSENS
For me the racing book that I wish had never been written. Jarno Saarinen is my all-time hero of racing. I cannot read this book without feeling great emotion these many years later: great sadness, along with anger that the riders of those days were treated so poorly with regard to safety. In the early 70s Saarinen was the man who was taking the Grand Prix scheme by storm, by challenging the dominance of the great Giacomo Agostini and his fabulous MV. Saarinen won the 250cc World title in 1972 and then was signed by Yamaha to lead their attack on the 500cc title in 1973. After dominating the early season events he arrived at Monza leading both the 250cc & 500cc championship standings, before events at Monza on the fateful day in May 1973 when he lost his life alongside Italian legend Renzo Pasolini.

By |2020-04-29T09:39:45+00:00March 26th, 2020|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events, Nick's Blog, Uncategorised|Comments Off on Top 10 motorcycling books

Changing of the Guard

With the retirement at the end of 2018 of Dani Pedrosa, and Jorge Lorenzo recently calling an end to his MotoGP career, the makeup of the MotoGP podium is undergoing a serious change. Dani Pedrosa made his MotoGP at the opening race of 2006 at Jerez and immediately made an impact with a second place finish behind Loris Capirossi and in front of his more experienced Honda team mate Nicky Hayden. In the subsequent years, up to his final podium appearance at Valencia in 2017, he made a total of 112 podium appearances; averaging more than 9 top three finishes per year. 

Jorge Lorenzo also made an immediate impact with his move to MotoGP, finishing second in his debut race at Qatar in 2008, behind Casey Stoner. His final podium count was 114 over 11 years, averaging more than ten podium appearances per year. With Pedrosa gone, and Lorenzo not making the top three in the 2019 season wrecked by injury, there has been opportunity for new faces to appear more regularly on the podium, in particular Maverick Vinales, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo and Jack Miller. 

The table below illustrates how the average age of the riders finishing on the MotoGP podium in 2019 was at the lowest level since 2014. Also shown in the table are the number of podium appearances each year of the MotoGP series by riders aged 30 or over. In 2003, 2004 & 2005 the podiums were dominated by riders aged 30 and over, with as many as eight riders of this age finishing on the podium during the season. In 2019 only three riders 30 or over managed to finish on the podium: Rossi, Dovizioso and Crutchlow. Also worth noting is that the last time that Marc Marquez was the youngest rider on the podium was back in Mugello.

Although the current “changing of the guard” is not as dramatic as the one that took place over the years 2006 to 2008, when Pedrosa, Stoner and Lorenzo took over from the likes of Barros, Biaggi, Gibernau and Checa, perhaps the full transition will be complete at the end of 2020 with the futures of Rossi, Dovizioso and Crutchlow yet to be decided.

As always in Grand Prix motorcycle racing the arrival of new faces keeps it healthy and exciting. There are always great riders of seasons past, great riders of the present, and great riders of seasons yet to come.

Year

Average age of podium finishers

Number of podiums by riders aged 30 or over

Rider aged 30 or over finishing on the podium

2002

28 years 22 days

15

Ryo, Biaggi, Barros

2003

28 years 228 days

29

Biaggi, Capirossi, Gibernau, Bayliss, Barros

2004

29 years 173 days

28

Biaggi, Capirossi, Gibernau, Bayliss, Barros, Checa, Edwards

2005

28 years 133 days

21

Gibernau, Barros, Biaggi, Jacque, Edwards, Capirossi, Checa, Roberts

2006

26 years 212 days

12

Capirossi, Edwards, Roberts, Bayliss

2007

25 years 141 days

7

Edwards, Capirossi, Barros

2008

25 years 210 days

3

Edwards, Capirossi

2009

25 years 238 days

14

Edwards, Rossi

2010

25 years 239 days

10

Rossi

2011

25 years 322 days

2

Edwards, Rossi

2012

26 years 216 days

2

Rossi

2013

25 years 322 days

6

Rossi

2014

26 years 312 days

13

Rossi

2015

29 years 175 days

19

Rossi, Pedrosa

2016

28 years 286 days

22

Rossi, Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Crutchlow

2017

28 years 281 days

27

Rossi, Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Crutchlow, Lorenzo

2018

28 years 285 days

21

Rossi, Dovizioso, Crutchlow, Lorenzo

2019

27 years 142 days

14

Rossi, Dovizioso, Crutchlow
By |2020-04-29T09:39:45+00:00December 18th, 2019|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|1 Comment

Is it really 40 years ago?

Silverstone comes around once again and this is the 43rd successive year that I have attended the British Grand Prix – every year since it replaced the Isle of Man TT races as the British round of the world championship in 1977. Perhaps the most memorable of those 42 previous years was exactly 40 years ago and the great battle between Barry Sheene and Kenny Roberts n 1979. Before giving my memories of the race, just a few words about Barry Sheene to set the scene.

My first race meeting at Oulton Park at Easter of 1972 when I saw this young guy with flowing hair and white leathers trounce everyone in the 250cc and 500cc race on his Yamahas.  At the time it was the performance of Cal Rayborn and Ray Pickrell that everyone was raving about,  but for a young lad of 16 it was the style and riding of Barry Sheene that caught the eye.

So you could say that he became my racing “hero” a few years before becoming a household name after his Daytona crash in 1975.  In fact the crash certainly increased his standing in my view as it illustrated that here was a guy worth the hero status – as not only was he a fantastic rider but also incredibly tough and determined.  Of course over the next few years he went on to win his world titles and this was a great time to follow racing as Barry Sheene appeared at many British meetings as well as the Grand Prix, where there would be 40,000 or more spectators turn up to watch.  I can recall one International meeting at Mallory where there was Barry Sheene racing against Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read and Kenny Roberts!!  Can you imagine that now?  I think the only way to compare the effect Sheene had on racing and the way he brought it to the notice of the ordinary guy in the street was, just imagine if Valentino Rossi was English…..someone who is not only the best rider in the world but also has style and charisma.

Now to the race in question.  To be honest when the Grand Prix series arrived at Silverstone in 1979 Barry Sheene was not having a great season and was being well beaten in the Championship by his great rival Kenny Roberts.  Of course for me, as a Sheene fan, Roberts was the arch-enemy. Even though Sheene had qualified fifth, more than 1.7 seconds down on Roberts, there was always belief that he could come good in the race.  Of course at the start of the race everyone’s attention was diverted by the embarrassing crash by Mick Grant on the NR500 at the first corner on his team-mate’s oil!!  Early in the race Wil Hartog was up front.  This was my first experience of the fanatical Dutch supporters, as I was in the Woodcote stands and there was about 50 of them in a group just behind us that went mad every time Hartog came around.  But once Sheene and Roberts got to the front it was just a great race and also great atmosphere there in the Woodcote stand.  I am sure both riders thought they had the other covered……but then it happened, right in front of where I was sitting, when a back-marker got in the way of Sheene going onto the last lap……and we though then that the race was run.  But Sheene broken the lap record on the last lap (amazingly more than one and half seconds faster than his qualifying time) to challenge Roberts right in front again of where I was sitting.  What a great finish to a fantastic race…..but of course a great disappointment to the home crowd.  I don’t think I have been more excited by a race since…..or more disappointed at the result.  

Many years later I was fortunate enough to be producing the official MotoGP statistics and now know that the record books show this as the fifth closest race finish of all time in 500cc class – but as always the record books do not give the full story. Lets hope we are in for another thriller on the 40th anniversary of that race, but this time with a British rider winning by a whisker to give the home crowd something to remember in 2059!

By |2020-04-29T09:39:46+00:00August 15th, 2019|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on Is it really 40 years ago?

Chips with mayonnaise on a Saturday

No wonder Assen is the only venue left from that original 1949 World Championship schedule. After all, any circuit that serves chips with mayonnaise and beer at seven in the morning deserves to still be leading the way. Throw in a Saturday race, until a few years ago, and a lively night life in Groningen, plus the chance to go in your own car overnight on the ferry, you understand why no other venue stood a chance.

For me, at first as a fan, it was those chips and beer that were such a crucially important part of the Dutch TT weekend. As a journalist and commentator, I loved those Saturday race days because for the only time in a long season I could get home for a roast Sunday lunch. Travelling down to Schiphol airport, staying overnight and then flying home early on Sunday morning when, because of the time difference, you would arrive in London earlier or at the same time you left, already smelling the beef and roast potatoes cooking, the Yorkshire pudding rising and the horse radish sauce bottle already open ready to be poured over it all – heaven!

The ferry trips were fantastic. No sleep but plenty of beer overnight on Wednesday and then the race up to Assen. The race back on Saturday after leaving the circuit before the end of the sidecar race to try and escape the traffic was an adventure in itself to catch the night ferry back. You could then drive to the office, deliver your copy and films from the photographer and still be home for lunch.

I love the Dutch because we are on the same wavelength. They love MotoGP™, football and beer, which is a pretty good combination. The first race I covered as a journalist in Assen was in 1980 and won by Jack Middelburg and the place went totally crazy. He was the last Dutchman to win a premier class race at home and those scenes of celebration were only matched eight years later. I remember one of those early Sunday morning flights out of Schiphol the day after the Dutch football team had won the 1988 European Championship. They flew in with the trophy as we flew out and the sea of orange and the welcome for the team made me realise what we in England had missed since that incredible afternoon in 1966. Qualifying session times were altered one year because Holland were playing Germany and the organisers realised that everybody from both countries would be watching the game on television either at the circuit or at home.

The weather can be a problem but there are not many places they would close certain parts of the motorway in order to park thousands of cars that usually parked on the grass which by this time was flooded.

When I first went to Assen as a journalist the accreditation centre was in the stadium up the road from the circuit. It was the same stadium where they held a round of the World Ice Racing Championship while we stayed in a small village, where our landlady regaled us with stories over breakfast of how she had hidden allied airmen in the Second World War after they had crashed nearby.

Unfortunately, for commercial reasons, they changed race day to Sunday and I was not so keen on the raw herring that my Dutch friends so enjoyed. Apart from that, Assen is so very special.

And the racing itself has been pretty decent over those 70 years but could you please pass the mayonnaise.

By |2019-06-27T19:03:33+00:00June 27th, 2019|Martin Raines Blog, Nick's Blog|Comments Off on Chips with mayonnaise on a Saturday

Dani Pedrosa – a MotoGP legend?

Dani Pedrosa draws his career to a close this weekend in Valencia after a long and successful career, prompting discussion about what does a rider need to achieve to be given the designation of a legend. Well let’s look at what he has achieved:

  • This weekend he will be making his 295thGP starts. Only Valentino Rossi and Loris Capirossi has made more GP starts.
  • 54 grand prix wins – making him 7thin the all-time GP winners list.
  • 31 wins in the premier-class – 8thin the all-time list
  • 153 grand prix podium finishes – third on the all-time list after Rossi and Giacomo Agostini (Lorenzo is currently on 152 podium finishes, so could equal Pedrosa’s total this weekend)
  • 112 premier-class podium finishes – third on the all-time list after Rossi and Lorenzo.
  • He has won at least one grand prix every year for 16 successive years from 2002 to 2017. This is the record as the longest sequence of successive years that a rider has achieved at least one grand prix victory.
  • He won at least one race in the MotoGP class every year for twelve successive seasons. The only other rider to have achieved this in the premier-class is Giacomo Agostini.
  • He has had the fourth longest winning career in grand prix racing after Rossi, Capirossi and Angel Nieto.
  • He has the third longest winning career in the premier-class after Rossi and Alex Barros.
  • In 2003 he became the second youngest ever 125cc world champion after Loris Capirossi.
  • In his debut race in the 250cc class in South Africa in 2004 he became the youngest ever 250cc grand prix race winner.
  • Also in 2004 he became the youngest ever 250cc world champion and the youngest rider to win a title in two different classes.
  • In 2005 he retained the 250cc world title making him the youngest rider to be three times a world champion.
  • He has been runner-up in the MotoGP world championship on three occasions; in 2007 behind Casey Stoner, in 2010 & 2012 to Jorge Lorenzo.
  • Comparing to the rider some think of as the greatest of all-time: in his thirteen years in the MotoGP class he has finished ahead on Valentino Rossi in the world championship on six occasions.

Although Pedrosa never achieved that dream MotoGP title, that is perhaps due to circumstances outside his control: his small physical stature, a fragile body and being around at a time when the premier-class is more competitive than ever with such other great riders as Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo and Marquez.

Stand up and take a bow Dani – a true motorcycle grand prix racing legend!

 

By |2020-04-29T09:39:47+00:00November 17th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on Dani Pedrosa – a MotoGP legend?

Valencia Grand Prix facts and statistics

  • This year will be the 20thGrand Prix of Valencia, which has been held every year at the Ricardo Tormo circuit since the first visit in 1999.
  • This will be the 17thsuccessive year that Valencia has hosted the final race of the season, making it the circuit that has been the venue for the final event of the year on most occasions. It has been the final event of the year throughout the MotoGP era.
  • The Valencia circuit is named after Spanish racer Ricardo Tormo, who won the 50cc world title riding for Bultaco in 1978 and 1981. In addition to his 15 Grand Prix victories in the 50cc class he also had 4 wins in the 125cc class.  His career ended in 1984 due to leg injuries suffered in a crash whilst test riding. Tormo sadly died from leukaemia in 1998.
  • Dani Pedrosa is the most successful rider at the Valencia circuit with seven wins; four in MotoGP, two in 250cc, and one in the 125cc class. The next most successful rider is Jorge Lorenzo with four wins in Valencia, all in the MotoGP class.
  • The premier-class race at Valencia has been won ten times by Spanish riders; Sete Gibernau won the 500cc race on a Suzuki in 2001; Dani Pedrosa won the MotoGP race in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2017; Jorge Lorenzo won in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2016; Marc Marquez won four years ago.
  • The last non-Spanish rider to win the MotoGP race in Valencia was Casey Stoner in 2011.
  • Since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP formula in 2002, Honda has been the most successful manufacturer with nine victories at the Valencia circuit, including last year with Dani Pedrosa.
  • Yamaha has had five MotoGP wins at the Valencia circuit, the last of which was with Jorge Lorenzo in 2016.
  • Ducati have had two MotoGP wins in Valencia: with Troy Bayliss in 2006 and Casey Stoner in 2008.
  • Andrea Iannone’s third place finish in 2016 is the only podium at Valencia by a Ducati rider since Stoner finished second in 2010.
  • Suzuki’s only podium at Valencia in the MotoGP era is a third place finish with John Hopkins in 2007.
  • The MotoGP race at Valencia has only twice been won by a rider who has not qualified on the front row –  Marc Marquez in 2014 and Dani Pedrosa last year, on both occasions from fifth place on the grid.
  • At least one of the three classes at the Valencia Grand Prix has been won by a Spanish rider for the last nine years.
  • Valentino Rossi is the only rider to have competed at all nineteen previous grand prix events that have taken place at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.
  • There has never been a year when the three world championship winners have all won their respective races at the final event of the season since it has been held in Valencia.
  • The MotoGP title has been decided on four occasions in Valencia: in 2006 in favour of Nicky Hayden, 2013 – Marc Marquez, 2015 – Jorge Lorenzo and 2017 – Marc Marquez.
  • The eight Moto2 races that have taken place in Valencia have been won by eight different riders: 2010 – Karel Abraham, 2011 – Michele Pirro, 2012 – Marc Marquez, 2013 – Nico Terol, 2014 – Tom Luthi, 2015 – Tito Rabat, 2016 – Johann Zarco and 2017 – Miguel Oliveira.
  • The Intermediate-class world championship has been decided on four occasions in Valencia: in 2003 the 250cc title in favour of Manuel Poggiali, 2006 – Jorge Lorenzo (250cc), 2009 – Hiroshi Aoyama (250cc) and 2011 – Stefan Bradl (Moto2)
  • The six Moto3 races that have taken place in Valencia have been won by six different riders: 2012 – Danny Kent, 2013 – Maverick Viñales, 2014 – Jack Miller 2015 – Miguel Oliveira, 2016 – Brad Binder and 2017 – Jorge Martin. Prior to Martin’s win last year on a Honda, all of the Moto3 races at Valencia had been won by KTM.
  • The Lightweight-class world championship has been decided on eight occasions in Valencia: in 2002 the 125 cc title in favour of Arnaud Vincent, 2005 – Tom Luthi (125cc), 2007 – Gabor Talmacsi (125cc), 2010 – Marc Marquez (125cc), 2011 – Nico Terol (125cc), 2013 – Maverick Viñales (Moto3), 2014 – Alex Marquez (Moto3) and 2015 – Danny Kent (Moto3).
By |2020-04-29T09:39:47+00:00November 14th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on Valencia Grand Prix facts and statistics

The Times They Are A-Changin’…..

These words from the Bob Dylan song came to mind as I watched the MotoGP podium presentation in Malaysia, with all three riders having graduated from the Moto2 class; the fourth time in 2018 that this had occurred (having only once happened prior to this year, at Misano in 2015). Is the balance of power finally changing in MotoGP from the dominance of the ex-250cc riders to riders coming through from Moto2? 

Looking at the numbers of podium finishers in MotoGP by Moto2 riders for each year since 2011:

2011 – 0

2012 – 0

2013 – 17 (Marquez – 16, Bradl – 1)

2014 – 15 (Marquez – 14, Smith – 1)

2015 –  14 (Marquez – 9, Iannone – 3, Redding – 1, Smith – 1)

2016 –  21 (Marquez – 12, Iannone – 4, Vinales – 4, Redding – 1)

2017 –  23 (Marquez – 12, Vinales – 7, Zarco – 3, Folger – 1)

2018 (with one race remaining)    30 (Marquez – 14, Vinales – 5, Iannone – 4, Rins – 4, Zarco – 3)

These number show that since 2015 there has been a steady increase in both the number of MotoGP podium finishes by Moto2 graduates and the number of riders achieving these. Irrespective of what happens in Valencia, the number of podiums by ex-Moto2 riders will be more than 50% of those available in 2018 and five of the ten riders who have finished on the podium this year also come from this group.

So does this confirm that “The Times Are A-Changin”? Well with the retirement of Dani Pedrosa, and Alvaro Bautista going to WSBK, the honour of the 250cc GP graduates now depend on just five riders next year in MotoGP: Andrea Dovizioso, Karel Abraham, Aleix Espargaro, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Predicting what will happen next year in MotoGP is not something I will try, I would rather taking something from these  word of wisdom from the Bob Dylan song:

“Come writers and critics, Who prophesize with your pen

And keep your eyes wide, The chance won’t come again

And don’t speak too soon, For the wheel’s still in spin

And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’.

For the loser now will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’.”

By |2018-11-06T10:32:38+00:00November 6th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on The Times They Are A-Changin’…..