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Aragon Grand Prix 2018 – Facts and Stats

  • This is the ninth successive year that the Aragon circuit has hosted a grand prix event.
  • Aragon first hosted a grand prix event in 2010, when it became the sixth different circuit that has been used for grand prix racing in Spain. The other circuits that have been used in Spain are: Jerez, Catalunya, Jarama, Montjuich and Valencia.
  • Casey Stoner won the first MotoGP race at Aragon in 2010 on a Ducati, the only victory for the Italian manufacturer at this circuit.
  • Honda are the most successful manufacturer at the Aragon circuit with five MotoGP victories, with three different riders: Casey Stoner in 2011, Dani Pedrosa in 2012 and Marc Marquez in 2013, 2016 and 2017.
  • Jorge Lorenzo has given Yamaha two MotoGP victories at the Aragon circuit, in 2014 and 2015.
  • Spanish riders have had great success across all three GP classes at the Aragon circuit, winning seventeen of the twenty-four GP races that have taken place. The only non-Spanish riders who have had a grand prix win at the circuit are: Casey Stoner (MotoGP in 2010 & 2011), Andrea Iannone (Moto2 race in 2010), Romano Fenati (Moto3 in 2014), Miguel Oliveira (Moto3 in 2015), Sam Lowes (Moto2 in 2016) and Franco Morbidelli in Moto2 last year.
  • Casey Stoner’s two victories are the only occasions that a non-Spanish rider has stood on either of the top two steps of the podium in the MotoGP class at the Aragon circuit.
  • In addition to Casey Stoner’s win in 2010, the only podium finishes for Ducati riders at Aragon are; third for Nicky Hayden in 2010, third for Cal Crutchlow in 2014 and third for Jorge Lorenzo last year.
  • The best result at Aragon for Suzuki is the fourth place finish achieved in 2016 by Maverick Viñales.
  • Aleix Espargaro finished 6thin Aragon last year to equal the best ever result for Aprilia in the MotoGP class.
  • Only four different riders have started from pole in the MotoGP class at Aragon: Casey Stoner (2010 & 2011), Jorge Lorenzo (2012), Marc Marquez (2013, 2014. 2015. 2016) and Maverick Vinales last year.
  • Aragon is one of just five circuits on the current grand prix schedule that run in an anti-clockwise direction, along with Austin, Sachsenring, Phillip Island and Valencia.
  • Aragon is one of just four circuits on the current grand prix schedule where Valentino Rossi has not had a MotoGP victory, along with Austin, the Red Bull Ring in Austria and the Buriram International Circuit in Thailand that is being used for the first time this year.
  • Last year in Aragon the top 15 MotoGP riders crossed the line covered by 26.082 seconds, setting a new record for the closest top 15 of all-time in the premier-class.
  • The first four riders across the line in the MotoGP race in Aragon last year were all from Spain, for just the second time ever in the premier-class.
  • The eight Moto2 races that have taken place at the Aragon circuit have been won by eight different riders: 2010 – Andrea Iannone, 2011 – Marc Marquez, 2012 – Pol Espargaro, 2013 – Nico Terol, 2014 – Maverick Vinales, 2015 – Tito Rabat, 2016 – Sam Lowes and 2017 – Franco Morbidelli. None of these riders are now competing in the Moto2 class.
  • Six of the eight Moto2 races at Aragon have been won from pole, the exceptions are; Pol Espargaro in 2012 from second place on the grid and Franco Morbidelli last year from the head of the second row.
  • The six Moto3 GP races that have taken place at the Aragon circuit have been won by six different riders: 2012 – Luis Salom, 2013 – Alex Rins, 2014 – Romano Fenati, 2015 – Miguel Oliveira, 2016 – Jorge Navarro and 2017 –  Joan Mir. None of these riders are still competing in the Moto3 class.

 

By | September 19th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|0 Comments

A forty one year wait still on hold

As Bradley Smith and Scott Redding manfully fought without success for some precious World Championship points on Sunday I could not help thinking back three years at the MotoGP race in Misano. A race in tricky conditions on the Adriatic coast in which the two British riders finished on the podium behind Marc Marquez. They gambled in the changing track conditions with Smith, riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha second and Redding third on the Marc VDS Honda. Roll on those three years and it looks certain we are going to lose both Smith and Redding as full time MotoGP™ riders. All the excitement and optimism generated by those 28 laps at Misano seems a long time ago.

Both riders were products of the Dorna Academy and both came so close to bringing World Championship success to Britain in the smaller classes before joining MotoGP. Smith was runner-up to team-mate Julian Simon in the 2009 125 cc World Championship and won three grands prix in the class. Redding is still the youngest ever Grand Prix winner when he won the 125 cc British Grand Prix in 2008 and went onto finish second in the 2013 Moto2™ World Championship winning three Grands Prix in the class, including his home race at Silverstone.

In that same year of his second place in Misano Smith finished sixth in the MotoGP™ Championship and looked to have such a bright future in the premier class. Injuries and the switch to Michelin tyres slowed his progress and after two years at KTM he is moving on but still in the class as the test rider for Aprilia, which will include some Grand Prix wild card entries. Redding, who finished third at Assen in the rain a year after his Misano podium, could be lost to the class forever after 11 years in Grand Prix racing.

Incidentally I bumped into the other British star from that Dorna Academy a couple of weeks ago on the start line of the TT Classic races in the Isle of Man. As bubbly as ever Danny Webb, a 125 cc pole setter for Mahindra, was about to do battle on a glorious sounding Manx Norton with the 60.271 kms infamous TT Mountain circuit. His grand prix career and the Academy seemed a long way away.

It appears that the so capable Cal Crutchlow will take on the sole responsibility for the success–starved British fans. Those broad shoulders have already ended a 35 year nightmare when he brought the LCR Honda victory in the 2016 MotoGP™ race in the Czech Republic, which he followed up a couple of months later with a superb win at Phillip Island in Australia. The last British winner in the premier class had been Barry Sheene in 1981.

Good luck Bradley and Scott in the future. Cal’s third place at Misano on Sunday shows he still has a good few Grands Prix wins and podiums in him and we hope the new British Talent Cup will unearth somebody, but that will not happen overnight. Barry Sheene was the last British rider to win the premier class in Grand Prix racing 41 long painful years ago and that long wait for the new Sheene to emerge after four decades of disappointment still seems to have no end.

By | September 14th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|Comments Off on A forty one year wait still on hold

Moment of Truth

My moment of truth came in March 1976. After the first four months at Motor Cycle News reporting on the British Sidecar Trials Championship the News Editor told me that ‘the boy’ – his words not mine – was being dispatched to Misano to report on the 1976 pre-season international. When he added “bring back plenty of quotes back from Giacomo Agostini and Phil Read”, I was on the road dressed in my new blue and white Motor Cycle anorak with my signature proudly emblazoned on the breast pocket.

The pre-season international races had been held on the legendary streets and seafronts of the Adriatic towns for many years and the Reception at the Abners Hotel was adorned with photographs of Italian legends; Agostini, Bergamonti and Pagani to name but a few. Like so many of the road circuits they were a dangerous place to race and in 1971 a tragic accident involving Angelo Bergamonti ultimately led to the contruction of the Misano permanent circuit. The MV Agusta factory rider had won the last round of the 1970 Championship at Monjuich Park in Spain. His preparation for the new season included the international races on the Riccione seafront. The original meeting was called off because of heavy rain but a week later in early April the races went ahead despite the threat of more rain. It started to fall in the 350cc race while Bergamonti was chasing MV team-mate Agostini into a roundabout leading onto the sea front, and tragically the Italian crashed and was killed.

I was lucky to meet the legendary mechanic and later Honda media manager Iain Mackay in the Abners reception, who promptly invited me to dinner with his team on my first night. Sitting at the head of the table as I entered the restaurant was the leader of his team, a certain Giacomo Agostini – yes, Agostini the 15 times World Champion and all the rest of it. The Italian, who was then and still is now the most successful motorcycle racer in the 70-year history of the World Championship, standing up to shake hands with MCN’s latest raw recruit. I said little but nodded when spoken to and just ate what was put in front of me.

Practice day dawned with a rather weak and watery sun rising above a grey and uninviting Adriatic ocean. The Misano circuit is situated a couple of miles inland and the closed up camp sites, ice cream parlours and the rare sight of an Italian beach devoid of sun loungers, with only a few hardy dog walkers to be spotted, made the prospect of an international motorcycle race all rather surreal. It was a lot livelier and certainly noisier, with the scream and smoke from highly tuned two-stroke engines endorsing the fact that something was actually to happen on this March weekend.

The good old MCN jacket once again came into its own when Phil Read spotted me in the paddock. “You must be the new man from Motor Cycle News,” he enquired, and promptly invited me to dinner that night. “I’m staying at the Abners if you know it,” he told me, “and the restaurant is on the first floor.” Know it? Oh my god, I’m a regular and was there with your great mate Mr Agostini just last night! At least I knew where to go and after the meal I lay on the bed in my room wanting to phone my mates back home and tell them this was a doddle. I’d had dinner with Ago and Phil, met Walter Villa and really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about this job.

A few flurries of sleet falling into the uninviting sea greeted the breakfast guests at the start of my big day. On arrival groups of officials, Carabinieri, riders, mechanics and journalists stood around – something was wrong. Ago, upon looking out of his Abners bedroom window, had decided the sleet was actually snow and told the Misano organisers he would not race. They made a quick calculation and decided no Ago, no meeting, and called it off.

That was that and not a doddle after all. It was back to the British Sidecar Trials Championship.

By | September 6th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|1 Comment

San Marino 2018 – Facts and Stats

  • This is the 22nd time that Misano has hosted a motorcycle grand prix event.
  • The first grand prix event to take place at Misano was in 1980; the 500cc race was over 40 laps of the circuit that measured 3.448 km and ran in an anti-clockwise direction and was won by Kenny Roberts.
  • The Misano circuit hosted a GP event for a total of ten occasions between the years of 1980 and 1993.
  • Misano did not have a grand prix event for thirteen years following the accident that ended the career of Wayne Rainey in 1993.
  • When GP racing returned to Misano in 2007, it was on a much revised 4.18 km circuit running in the opposite direction to the earlier layout.
  • There have been twenty previous San Marino Grand Prix events. The first San Marino Grand Prix was held at Imola in 1981. Three different circuits have hosted the San Marino Grand Prix – Imola twice (1981 & 1983), Mugello four times (1982, 84, 91 and 93) and Misano on fourteen occasions (1985, 86, 87 and from 2007 onwards).
  • Yamaha have been the most successful manufacturer in MotoGP since the grand prix series returned to Misano in 2007 with six victories, the last was with Valentino Rossi in 2014.
  • Honda have had a four MotoGP wins at the Misano circuit, including the last three years.
  • Ducati’s single victory at Misano was in 2007 with Casey Stoner. Since Stoner’s win in 2007 Ducati have had four more podium finishes at this circuit: Toni Elias 3rd in 2008, Valentino Rossi 2nd in 2012, and last year Danilo Petrucci finished 2nd with Andrea Dovizioso 3rd.
  • Suzuki has had two podium finishes in the MotoGP era at Misano circuit, both of which came in 2007 when Chris Vermeulen finished second and John Hopkins third. Vinales’ 5th place finish in 2016 was the best result for a Suzuki rider at Misano since Loris Capirossi finished 5th in 2009.
  • The most successful rider at Misano since racing returned to the circuit in 2007 is Marc Marquez with five victories (1 x 125cc, 2 x Moto2, 2 x MotoGP)
  • Dani Pedrosa’s victory in 2010 is the last time that the MotoGP race at Misano was won by a rider starting from pole position.
  • The MotoGP podium in 2015 at Misano was: Marc Marquez, Bradley Smith and Scott Redding – the first MotoGP podium where all three of the riders had graduated from the Moto2 class.
  • Three Italian riders finished in the top five at Misano last year, all riding Ducati motorcycles. The last time that three Italian riders on Italian bikes finished in the top five in the premier-class was at Imola in 1972 when Giacomo Agostini on a MV Agusta won from team-mate Alberto Pagani, with Ducati rider Bruno Spaggiari completing the podium.
  • The eight Moto2 races that have taken place at Misano have been won by seven different riders: 2010 – Toni Elias, 2011 & 2012 – Marc Marquez, 2013 – Pol Espargaro, 2014 – Tito Rabat, 2015 – Johann Zarco, 2016 – Lorenzo Baldassarri, 2017 – Tom Luthi. Of these riders only Baldassarri is competing in the Moto2 class in 2018.
  • Five different riders have won the six Moto3 races that have taken place at Misano: 2012 – Sandro Cortese, 2013 & 2014 –Alex Rins, 2015 – Enea Bastianini, 2016 – Brad Binder, 2017 – Romano Fenati.

 

 

By | September 4th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on San Marino 2018 – Facts and Stats

Boot on the other foot

I’ve been there so many times before. Stuck in the commentary box with nothing to talk about but having to talk about something to keep the producer and more important the dwindling numbers of the viewers happy. I’ve never been on the other side until this Sunday. Sitting in front of the television screen waiting for something to happen with my former colleagues doing an unbelievable job to keep the show on the road as the rain continued to pour down.

The boot was really on the other foot and how ironic was it that I was on the Isle of Man on Sunday morning. The same famous mountain course that staged that very first World Championship race on June 13th 1949. The very same mountain course that hosted the British round of the World Championship until Silverstone took over in 1977.

Jak’s Sports Bar on the very wet and windy Douglas Promenade as the Irish Sea pounded in up the beach was our venue. The savvy manager opened up early at 11.00 am with the MotoGP™ race at Silverstone due to start in 11.30. The place was jammed packed with race fans from all over the world on the Island to watch the TT Classic races. Some started with coffee while others were straight onto the ale – after all they were on holiday. Like everybody we sat, drank, waited and drank, waiting for something to happen. More and more people arrived but despite the disappointment at each announcement of more delays, nobody moaned about riders not risking their lives to go out there, it was those sodden spectators that everybody raised a glass to, toasting their dedication.

Around 2.30 pm the rain had stopped outside and we decided – myself and three ex TT riders – to relieve the boredom and it was time to make our own lap of the 37 miles TT circuit. They wanted to relive their memories which they did with some scary old stories. We stopped at a pub in Ramsey and to the annoyance of the customers, asked the landlord to switch over from Premier League football coverage to MotoGP™. The pictures from the studio with the rain pouring outside told their own story and the customers cheered as they switched back to the football.

Back at Jaks, plenty of alcohol was still being consumed because everybody knew what the news from Silverstone was going to be. The announcement came as no great surprise. We were the lucky ones in the warm and dry, and all the sympathy was for those spectators who’d braved it out.

My thoughts turned to the television presenters and commentators. An unnamed pit lane reporter would say they knew things were desperate when Nick Harris reached the Milk Cup Final moment. When I had really run out of things to say I would recount the 1986 Milk Cup Final success of my beloved Oxford United. It was time to switch off, not that there many viewers still switched on.

As I was about to leave Jak’s, I raised my glass to those spectators at Silverstone and everybody at BT Sport who did such an amazing job. PS, it’s Monday morning on the Isle of Man and the start of racing has been delayed because of the weather. Nothing changes.

By | August 30th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|Comments Off on Boot on the other foot

GAS IT W…..

A certain Barry Sheene hung over pit wall holding the signal board that was going to herald a new chapter in the history of British Motorcycle racing. The GAS IT W….. message brought a smile to the face of his great mate Steve Parrish as he raced towards Copse corner on the last lap leading the very first British Grand Prix.

It was an August afternoon in 1977 in these were incredible times and now the prospect of a British winner – it did not get any better than this, although perhaps a Sheene victory would have been the ultimate ending to the most perfect day. Since 1949 the British round of the World Championship had traditionally been held over the mountain circuit at the TT in the Isle of Man. The majority of the leading riders had stopped riding at the most famous motorcycle race in the world while even some of the National Federations had banned their riders from competing because they felt the 60.721 kms circuit was just too dangerous. We’d had our appetites whetted with many of the Grand Prix stars competing in lucrative international meetings at Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Mallory Park and even Cadwell Park but this was the real thing. At last after 28 years, the British round of the World Championship was on the mainland and the timing was perfect.

Barry Sheene had already retained the 500cc World Championship, Barry and girlfriend Stephanie were the Beckhams of the seventies and featured on front pages and in magazines that would never have dreamt of even mentioning motor cycle racing and to make it the perfect day, Sheene was starting the race in pole position. To say Silverstone was buzzing would be a vast understatement.

The so wanted Sheene victory did not materialise when the World Champion was forced to retire with mechanical problems but led by Sheene, the massive crowd switched their allegiance to his partner in crime Steve Parrish. Even after that there was a backup with John Williams, riding another RG 500 Suzuki in second place in front of Sheene’s team-mate and not great friend American Pat Hennen.

Everybody was on their feet as Parrish raced between those towering grandstands at Woodcote to start the last of the 28 laps to re-write the history books both for himself and British Motorcycle racing, but don’t forget this was England in August. A few spots of rain spattered on Parrish’s visor as he turned his head to read Sheene’s typical message. Just 4.711 kms of the flat Northamptonshire countryside to negotiate and Parrish would win his first Grand Prix and would be crowned the very first winner of the British Grand Prix.

The National Anthem and the Union Jack were being prepared at the podium, but it was the Stars and Stripes that would be required. Going into the first corner at Copse to commence the most important lap of his life, Parrish lost the front end of his Suzuki and went down. Before the crowd could hardly utter a moan, Williams crashed three bends later leaving the way clear for Hennen to win his second 500cc Grand Prix, little did we realise that Kenny Roberts was going to open the flood gates a year later.

That was that. No British rider has won the premier class race at the British Grand in the next 41 years, the unfortunate Steve Parrish never won a Grand Prix and American riders dominated the Championship for the next ten years.

It could have been all so different.

By | August 23rd, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|Comments Off on GAS IT W…..

British GP 2018 – Facts and Stats

  • This is the ninth year that Silverstone has hosted grand prix racing since the motorcycle world championship series returned to the circuit in 2010 after a gap of 23 years.
  • The first motorcycle grand prix event to be held at Silverstone in 1977 was also the first motorcycle grand prix to be held on the British mainland; prior to 1977 the British round of the world championship had been held since 1949 on the 37.73mile long Isle of Man TT circuit. The move from the Isle of Man was made mainly for reasons of rider safety.
  • The winners at that first grand prix at Silverstone in 1977 were: 500cc – Pat Hennen (Suzuki), 350cc & 250cc – Kork Ballington (Yamaha), 125cc – Pierluigi Conforti (Morbidelli).
  • The original circuit layout used for the grand prix from 1977 to 1986 was 2.93 miles long (4.71 km) and the fastest lap in a race at the circuit during this time was set by Kenny Roberts riding a Yamaha in 1983 at an average speed of 119.5 mph (192.2 km/h).
  • The British grand prix was held for ten successive years at the Silverstone circuit, before the event moved to Donington Park in 1987. The British GP returned to Silverstone in 2010 with a revised circuit layout measuring 5.9 km.
  • Kork Ballington and Angel Nieto are the two riders with most GP victories at Silverstone, each having won there on six occasions.
  • The only three riders who have had more than a single victory at Silverstone since GP racing returned to the circuit in 2010 are Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Maverick Viñales. Lorenzo has won the MotoGP race there three times: 2010, 2012 & 2013; Marquez won the 125cc race in 2010 and the MotoGP race in 2014; Viñales won the Moto3 race in 2012 and the MotoGP in 2016.
  • Cal Crutchlow’s second place in 2016 was the first podium finish in the premier-class at Silverstone by a British rider since Ron Haslam finished third in the 500cc GP race in 1984.
  • Yamaha have won four of the eight MotoGP races that have taken place at Silverstone, the last of which was three years ago with Valentino Rossi.
  • Honda have had two MotoGP victories at Silverstone, with Casey Stoner in 2011 and Marc Marquez in 2014.
  • In 2016 at Silverstone Maverick Viñales gave Suzuki their first MotoGP win since Le Mans in 2007 when Chris Vermeulen won the wet French GP. This was also the first podium finish at Silverstone in the MotoGP era for Suzuki and the first win for Suzuki at Silverstone since Franco Uncini won the 500cc race at the British GP in 1982.
  • Last year Andrea Dovizioso gave Ducati their first ever grand prix victory at Silverstone.
  • Honda riders have qualified on pole in the MotoGP class at Silverstone for the last seven years. The only non-Honda rider to start from pole at Silverstone in the MotoGP class is Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha in 2010.
  • In the last six years the only rider to win the MotoGP race at Silverstone from pole position is Marc Marquez in 2014.
  • Three British riders have won a solo grand prix race at Silverstone; Danny Kent won the Moto3 race in 2015, Scott Redding won the Moto2 race in 2013 and Ian McConnachie won in the 80cc class back in 1986.
  • Only three British riders have started from pole at Silverstone, across all solo GP classes; Barry Sheene in the 500cc class in 1977, Sam Lowes in Moto2 in 2015 & 2016, and Cal Crutchlow in the MotoGP class in 2016.
  • The eight Moto2 races that have taken place at Silverstone have been won by eight different riders: 2010 – Jules Cluzel, 2011 – Stefan Bradl, 2012 – Pol Espargaro, 2013 – Scott Redding, 2014 – Tito Rabat, 2015 – Johann Zarco, 2016 – Tom Luthi, 2017 – Takaaki Nakagami. None of these riders are competing in the Moto2 class in 2018.
  • Six different riders have won the six Moto3 races that have taken place at Silverstone: 2012 – Maverick Viñales, 2013 – Luis Salom, 2014 – Alex Rins, 2015 – Danny Kent, 2016 – Brad Binder, 2017 – Aron Canet.

 

By | August 22nd, 2018|Uncategorised|Comments Off on British GP 2018 – Facts and Stats

The first Flag-to-Flag race?

Like the huge number of other British motorcycle grand prix fans (the term MotoGP had not been thought up back then) I arrived at Silverstone in 1978 optimistic that I would see a British rider take the honours in the 500cc race, then the premier-class of grand prix racing.

The first World Championship Grand Prix to be held on the British mainland was one year earlier at Silverstone. From 1949 to 1976 the famous Isle of Man TT races had counted towards the world championship classification and had been the British round of the series. That first year at Silverstone in 1977 I returned home disappointed after my racing hero of the time, Barry Sheene, who had dominated the world championship for two years, suffered a mechanical failure after starting from pole. The terrible day for the British riders was compounded when both Steve Parrish and John Williams crashed in the closing stages when leading the 500cc race in slippery conditions after a few spots of rain.

1978 of course saw the arrival of Kenny Roberts, and in his debut year competing in the world championship, he arrived at the penultimate race of the year with a slender three  point advantage. If Sheene could win the race at Silverstone then at worst he would arrive at the final race of the year in Germany level on points (in those days it was 15 points for a win and 12 for second place).

The race started under a threatening sky and predictably the rain started to fall before mid-race distance. I don’t think it overstates matters to say this caused chaos! To give a bit of background, slick tyres had only appeared on the scene a few years prior to this race, together with wet weather and intermediate tyres. However, the rule makers had not caught up with these changes and no one knew what to do in this situation where the race started in dry conditions, then rain started to fall during the race.

After a few laps wobbling around in treacherous conditions on slick tyres the riders eventually streamed into pit lane. But one rule that did exist back then was that riders could not change bikes during the course of the race, so the only alternative was to change wheels and tyres. This is where the pit crew of Kenny Roberts, headed by 1969 250cc world champion Kel Carruthers, won the race. During the early parts of the season Roberts had been supplied with only one bike from Yamaha, which meant that in order to test tyres during practice the crew has become skilled in quickly changing the wheels. So at Silverstone they had the rider out on the track again with full rain tyres in less than 3 minutes. However, the Sheene pit crew took more than 7 minutes to get the wheels changed.

Once back on track Barry Sheene demonstrated his mastery of the wet conditions, lapping much faster than any of his rivals. But it was in vain and he could not make up the advantage gained by Roberts in the pit stop.

While all this was going on, one of the British “wild-card” riders Steve Manship had “thrown the dice” and started on intermediate tyres. He took the lead of the race when everyone pitted, and came close to taking the win, but was passed by Roberts on the final lap. Sheene came home third, after his heroic efforts took him to just over a minute behind Roberts.

So that is why I say this race was the first flag-to-flag, before the term was even invented! In fact, it was a real flag-to-flag because the riders finished on the same bikes they started the race.

So for the second year the Silverstone crowd had been denied a British winner. It will not be a surprise if there is inclement weather this year at Silverstone, but let’s hope that it does not stop a British rider winning the MotoGP race and sending the fans home happy.

By | August 21st, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|1 Comment

Silverstone Grand Prix – the early years

This is the ninth Grand Prix at Silverstone since it returned to the circuit in 2010. However, Silverstone had hosted the British round of the world championship on ten previous occasions from 1977 to 1986 and below is a brief recap of what happened in those 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

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 in the closing stages of the race.  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 first British rider to win a Grand Prix race for solo motorcycles around the Silverstone circuit.

 

By | August 20th, 2018|Martin Raines Blog, News and Events|Comments Off on Silverstone Grand Prix – the early years

At the crunch, it’s the actual racing that counts

I wondered just what Ross Brawn thought at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday as he watched the epic duel between Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez exchanging paint schemes in their fight for victory. The very accomplished and highly experienced Brawn is widely acclaimed as the man to bring the fizz and excitement back to four wheels and Formula One.

Hopefully he enjoyed the racing and I’m sure did not need reminding that when it comes to the real crunch, it’s the actual racing out on the track that is the key to success. You can introduce brilliant technical innovations, clever rule changes to try and ensure closer racing and have every well-known celebrity in the world filmed on the starting grid but it’s the action on the tarmac that gets the adrenalin flowing through the veins of both the crowds and commercially probably more important, the television audiences.

Ninety-two thousand fans in the Austrian sunshine embraced just what MotoGP™ is all about. Flag waving, flare burning and vocal, they just loved everything that MotoGP™ had to offer in a day of noise, excitement with rivers of adrenalin flowing while the riders played their part as always. Superb Moto3™ and Moto2™ contests were the ideal dessert for the MotoGP™ race and Lorenzo and Marquez did not let us down with a head to head confrontation. You could not write the script with the two Spanish World Champion team-mates at Repsol Honda next year.

This season, or the last few seasons I have been lucky to witness, have made me a little bit selfish because I was disappointed there were no records broken in the MotoGP™ race on Sunday. The closest ever top ten premier class finish in the 70-year history of the sport at the previous round in Brno. Just 8.3 seconds separated that top ten while just a couple of rounds earlier the closest ever top 15 finish. In Assen it was 16.04s that elapsed between the winner Marc Marquez and 15th placed Dani Pedrosa, crossing the line after a breathless 25 laps of the Cathedral.

Of course, I was not disappointed on Sunday because you need not look further than those two at the front fighting for the lead to provide enough excitement and anticipation to keep you going until they reach Silverstone in two weeks’ time.

When Formula One visited the Red Bull Ring earlier in the season just the three leading cars finished on the same lap of the 71-lap race, but one thing they produced that MotoGP™ has not done for 28 barren years was a Dutch winner. Instead of the Rossi or KTM flags filling the hillsides it was Dutch orange of Max Verstappen. I waited 35 years for a British Premier class winner and hopefully those loyal Dutch fans will remain that patient.

In the meantime, enjoy that racing because when it comes to the crunch, that’s what really counts.

By | August 16th, 2018|News and Events, Nick's Blog|Comments Off on At the crunch, it’s the actual racing that counts