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Why the show is the result of talent and not always of technology

WHO'S AFRAID OF MOTOGP? The bikes of the premier class are no longer scary for anyone. This year 5 riders have already won: Bastianini, Oliveira, Aleix Espargarò, Quartararo and Bagnaia. In 2021 they were in 8: Vinales, Quartararo, Miller, Oliveira, Marquez, Martin, Brad Binder and Bagnaia. Are we living in a generation of phenomena?


Why the show is the result of talent and not always of technology

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On the Sunday following the Silverstone Grand Prix, in our usual Live with Carlo Pernat and Matteo Aglio, I made a declaration that perhaps was unclear and, as always on social media, found both those in favour and against.

This is not the first time that this has happened, indeed it has already happened other times for things said in a conversation and extrapolated from the content: you know, you don't always speak the way you write and in the heat of the discussion you don't make many distinctions because you always think that the listener has followed the entire thread of the speech. And this is not always the case.

The approximate crux of my affirmation was this: we must intervene on the technical regulations because the current ones do not reward talent adequately.

From some observers this was understood as being a brake on evolution. That’s one thing that anyone who knows me knows is completely out of my mind because I love technology and I think that banning, for example, the Ducati front 'shapeshifter' without changing the rule book, but only because the other manufacturers complained, was a huge mistake. Just as Dorna's intervention was wrong to settle the issue, but it is a well-known fact that Carmelo Ezpeleta has to cope with the problem.

However, let's get back to the heart of the matter: the current bikes do not fully reward those who are more talented. Or rather: it would be more appropriate to say that the current regulations, as a whole, do not reward the most talented riders.

But how did we ever get to a regulation that puts (almost) all the manufacturers on the same level? Simple, to magnify the spectacle!

Right… No, it’s wrong, because with a single control unit, one-make tyre, virtually a sole supplier for suspension and brakes and concessions, the trajectory of our sport has deviated from the initial course.

The reasons for the various, small, changes that have brought MotoGP out of its orbit are various, and even independent of each other.

The original sin, however, remains one: to think that the public wants to see different winners every Sunday! Equating ‘today I win, tomorrow you do and tomorrow someone else’ just to 'put on a show' and, at the same time, excite the fans and convince the manufacturers to continue their commitment is quite simply a big mistake.

To deny the last statement, all you need to do is remember Suzuki’s retirement: it spent less than the other manufacturers, it took home the world championship with Mir, it still has two excellent riders and an excellent manager, Livio Suppo, and yet it threw in the towel!

Notwithstanding this first statement: the show is not all about many different winners, we must add a corollary.

And this is it: the public loves 'serial winners', to which the antagonists must be opposed. Just look at Rossi, Biaggi and Capirossi: the beautiful, the bad and the good, the one that even in the most ferocious of controversies (Harada) manages not to be hated.

Do you want more? Rossi and Stoner, Rossi and Marquez. In the past Rainey and Schwantz, first Roberts and Spencer and then Spencer and Lawson. Let's not forget about Agostini who was the benchmark for everyone.

This confirms that there is no need to have dozens of winners a year. As long as the winners are good.

Now that we have clarified this point, on which surely someone will disagree, but I didn't write history, let's move on to the technical aspects. MotoGP with its 'gardener' Dorna has trimmed the branches of the premier class into a beautiful round tree that can be admired from all sides. Perfect. The fact is that this means that many riders are able to climb to the top following a path traced by the technicians in the garage. At the same time, so much perfection has the consequence that it is enough not to be able to follow that path to see one's efforts thwarted.

We are thinking of the tenth of the pressure of an overheating front tyre that will precipitate a possible winner to the rear.

Of course the problems, as always, have many fathers but no culprits: it is pointless to try to blame Michelin if, all of a sudden (and moreover in the middle of the pandemic) it saw the load on the front wheel increase enormously thanks to aerodynamics and increasingly performing brakes.

If you want to go over 360 km / h, you must be able to stop! And you get there, to the 360 mark, because the wings help you to keep the front wheel glued to the asphalt.

Let's get things straight: I used to love wheelies out of corners with the riders moving forward to counter them. But that is not nostalgia: do you remember the riding position on the motorcycles, not from the ‘70s, but also the ‘80s and ‘90s? The rider was almost lying down…

What I would like to explain, but I don't know if I can, is that every now and then, while technology offers us new solutions, a regulatory reboot must be made and it seems to us that the time has come. The time to reward those who have the most inventiveness, and also to reward the rider who has the most talent.

This is because when perfection is reached, or better still, is almost touched upon, then more and more sportsmen are able to approach the limit and this does not help the show, on the contrary it diminishes it. Flattening it out.

Let's look at MotoGP with eyes devoid of fandom, please: after the retirement of Rossi, Biaggi, Stoner, Lorenzo, Marquez's problems, there is no way that we have had five other phenomena in MotoGP. We haven’t even got close to having them.

We’ve had some good races, like the Marquez-Dovizioso period, because one had a phenomenal bike and the other was phenomenal. An excellent rider, Dovi, against an exceptional one, spectacle all the same because what Marc had, compensated for what Andrea had.

And it certainly did not happen that one of the two, like the others mentioned above, won one day and the next week finished seventh!

It's true: the rider still counts a lot in motorcycle racing. If this were not the case, Honda (without Marquez) would not be in the crisis it is now. But it is also undeniable that the current MotoGP bikes have something wrong with them. How is it possible that the Ducatis go well with (almost) everyone? And Yamaha only with Quartararo, despite the fact that the Iwata manufacturer team has a world championship runner-up with Morbidelli?

So, we should thoroughly investigate what is not working in the current MotoGP, because it certainly does not entirely favour talent. We do not go so far as to say that the bikes are too simple to ride, because it is not true, and yet there is something that does not work if for almost the entire race we see the bikes running on train tracks, while Superbikes, which might also lap slower, but not that much slower, jump across the track like crickets.

What we need to achieve is a level of riding difficulty that truly rewards the best talents, who are not ten out of 22 starters. This is also statistically impossible.

Attention, because I am one of those people who when he sees Moto3 races in which the first 14 arrive in the space of two seconds thinks it is just one big orgy, not an exciting spectacle. But this depends on the performance and equality of the bikes, and often victory and defeat on the last lap depends on chance or on some too risky manoeuvre.

It’s a long and complex matter. It concerns MotoGP, but also the other categories that have practically disappeared from the general media. And this is not good. In short, motorcycle racing until a few years ago was based on the legs of giants who, for one reason or another, are no longer there.

And the public wants phenomena, two or three-way battles. Game of Thrones with dragons, sportsmanship and fair play is OK, but not 'we all love each other'. It has never been like this and it never will be.

The public missing in the stands is telling us very clearly. It is up to us to understand it or not. It’s true that Valentino is missing and Marquez is missing, but that’s not the only reason.

 

 

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