The 10 Best and Worst Things to Happen to MotoGP the Last 10 Years
The Five Best
1 MotoGP and Valentino Rossi grew up together. Their success was a result of a symbiosis never before seen in racing. Without Rossi there wouldn’t be the crowds, the TV money, the sponsorship dollars.
2 One of the best things came out of one of the worst. After Daijiro Kato succumbed to injuries suffered in the 2002 Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, the first death in MotoGP, Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta created the rider safety commission, in which the whole paddock had a say. It’s led to much safer race tracks. Sadly, it can’t stop fatalities.
3 The sophistication of the television production gets little praise, though it should. The investment Dorna has made in television, in technology, cameras, and on-board cameras is unmatched in motorsports. That you can stream it from any connected device anywhere in the world gives them the greatest reach of all.
4 Energy drinks are a healthy alternative to the tobacco sponsorship which once ruled the paddock. Though not as deeply invested, Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar and others have not only backed teams and championships-the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup-but promoted the sport to an entirely new demographic.
5 Both Alpinestars and Dainese have made huge strides in rider safety equipment. Both outfit their top riders with air bag-equipped leathers which have saved any number of riders from broken collarbones, or worse. Composites are being used in boot lines, gloves, elbow and knee protection. The riders benefit; the real winners are the fans who aren’t denied their stars.
The Claiming Rule Team bikes — using...
The Claiming Rule Team bikes — using a production-based engine in a prototype chassis — have helped fill the grid, but most of the factory riders are dismissive of the new class, calling it a subset that dilutes the spirit of MotoGP.
When a front tire spec from...
When a front tire spec from Bridgestone was suddenly changed just prior to the season start, Honda and its riders found that the RC213V didn’t like the new tire that caused midcorner chatter which required a new chassis.
Suzuki fielded a MotoGP entry...
Suzuki fielded a MotoGP entry until the end of the 2011 season, when it finally pulled the plug when financial concerns became too much to bear, even with just one rider
Kawasaki was another manufacturer that eventually pulled out of MotoGP due to cost concerns. When the team officially pulled out in 2009, it left rider John Hopkins without a bike or team, although his erstwhile teammate Marco Melandri was allowed to run for the rest of the year with a skeleton team.
1 The move to 800cc engines ruined racing. The less powerful machines relied more heavily on increasingly sophisticated electronics. The races were won by the boffins. And there was no passing.
2 Marco Simoncelli wasn’t the first rider to die in a MotoGP race, but his death hit hardest. Simoncelli was a charismatic speed demon in a paddock increasingly dominated by the faceless. His was the brightest future in racing. He won’t be forgotten.
3 The global financial crisis crippled motorcycling and racing in ways that will take a decade to overcome, not only in terms of sales but also sponsorship. The fringe players in MotoGP — Suzuki and Kawasaki — withdrew and no one took their places.
4 Be careful what you wish for. That was what the riders, led by Rossi, were told when making the push for control tires. They got their wish, but they didn’t get the tires they’d been racing on before the one-brand rule, not the quality, not the quantity. The bitching continues.
5 The loss of diversity and the move to southern Europe. In 2002, there were three Italians, three Spaniards, and four Japanese in MotoGP. The Japanese are gone and there are six Spaniards and five Italians. This year there were five races on the Iberian Peninsula and two in Italy, both of which are struggling under crushing debt.