A permanent and bitter debate rages among British fans over where the home of the British round of MotoGP should be. One faction believes that Donington Park should play host to MotoGP. The other states categorically that, no, the true home of MotoGP in the UK is the Silverstone circuit.
There is a third, far smaller faction which claims that Brands Hatch is where the British Grand Prix should be held. Blinded by nostalgia, they hark back to the halcyon days of World Superbikes, when fans packed the track to watch Carl Fogarty dominate.
But they ignore the fact that the circuit is too short, too tight, and frankly, too dangerous to play host to 270+hp MotoGP machines. The Ducati would barely get out of third gear around Brands. The Brands Hatch faction can safely be ignored.
The battle lines between Donington and Silverstone are clearly drawn. Donington is set on a rolling hillside, with grass banks where fans can watch a large part of the action. Fans love Donington for the views, and for the access (though not so much for the facilities).
Silverstone is a vast affair, with lots of fast sweeping corners where the MotoGP bikes can really stretch their legs. Racers love Silverstone for the challenge of riding fast and hard, but fans complain of limited access, limited views, and cold and windy seats up in grandstands.
Which track is better? In terms of racing, there is really no contest. Donington is too small, too tight to host a modern MotoGP machine.
The final sector, the Melbourne Loop, was a late addition to find the necessary length to allow the track to qualify as a Grand Prix circuit. It was added without any thought or imagination on how to make the circuit more interesting.
It is hard to keep secrets in the MotoGP paddock (though not impossible, as Jorge Lorenzo’s move to Repsol Honda conclusively proves). One of the worst kept secrets has been the news that the Sepang International Circuit, or SIC, is to expand its current operation to include a MotoGP team.
Over the months since rumors first started circulating, that Sepang was interested in running a MotoGP team, details have slowly dripped out, until we now have an almost complete picture. The whole picture is to be formally announced at Silverstone, at a press conference at 6pm BST on Friday.
Here’s what we already know: the team is to be an extension of the current Petronas Sprinta Racing team, which currently runs Adam Norrodin and Ayumi Sasaki in Moto3, and Niki Tuuli in Moto2.
The Petronas SIC Yamaha team, as it will almost certainly be called, will be the showcase team for the Petronas-backed structure run by the Sepang International Circuit.
The objective is to have two riders in each of the three Grand Prix classes, from Moto3 to MotoGP, as well as a team in the FIM CEV Junior World Moto3 Championship.
Our favorite motorcycle charity is about to have its biggest event of the year, as Two Wheels for Life will be hosting its Day of Champions event ahead of the British GP at Silverstone in just under two weeks’ time.
Held on the Thursday before racing action begins, the Day of Champions offers a number of fun motorcycle events for the whole family, and it culminates with a live auction that is hosted by Randy Mamola, and offers some very cool MotoGP paraphernalia to bid on.
Other events of note include the opportunity to have access to the MotoGP paddock on Thursday and to meet some GP riders. There is also a ride that participants can join, which includes two laps around the Silverstone track (you can buy tickets here).
Of course, all the money raised goes towards a good cause, as Two Wheels for Life provides funding to programs in Africa that ensure life-saving healthcare gets to rural communities using reliable transport (i.e. motorcycles).
2017 has been a strange year in motorcycle racing. We have had one of the best ever seasons of racing in MotoGP, with close finishes and a surprise title challenger.
We have seen one of the best ever WorldSBK riders stamp his authority on the series, though that has also seen the championship suffer partly as a result.
We have seen young talent come through in the support classes, and older talent recognized and appreciated. There has been much to celebrate.
But there has also been much to mourn. 2017 saw two of the most iconic names in motorcycle racing lose their lives, ironically, both in traffic accidents and not on motorcycles.
Nicky Hayden was killed while out training on his bicycle, hit by a car as he crossed a road at a treacherous crossroads. Angel Nieto suffered head injuries when he was hit by a car while out riding a quad bike on Ibiza.
In a somewhat surprising development, Silverstone has signed up to host the British round of MotoGP for three more years. The Northamptonshire circuit is to hold the race through 2020.
Since the British round was held earlier this year, it looked like the race would go to Donington Park. The Leicestershire track had shown renewed interest in the race, after the circuit had been bought by MSV, who also run the BSB series and own several other British tracks.
Hosting the series at Donington would have required upgrades in a number of areas, however, and making those in time for August next year would have been difficult.
Episode 58 of the Paddock Pass Podcast sees David Emmett, Neil Morrison, and Steve English on the mics, as they cover both the Austrian and British GP rounds.
At the end of the racing in Silverstone, we saw a new leader in the MotoGP Championship standings, and according the show discuss how Andrea Dovizioso has risen to the top of the MotoGP riders.
The conversation then turns to the Movistar Yamaha garage, and the rivalry that is brewing between Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales. It should be noted that this episode was recorded before Valentino Rossi broke his right leg enduro riding.
The last MotoGP topics covers Marc Marquez, his exploding engine, and what’s happening the HRC side of the paddock. The guys also talk about Bradley Smith, and the trouble he is having with the KTM RC16.
After a quick talk about Moto2 and Moto3, the conversation turns to the big winners and losers of the last two rounds. It’s another great show from the Paddock Pass crew, and you won’t want to miss it.
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If there is one thing that makes real life much more interesting than fiction, it is that real life is no respecter of plausible plot lines. If you were to take a script of the 2017 MotoGP season so far to a movie producer or a fiction publisher, they would reject it 30 seconds into your pitch. It is all a little too implausible.
Five riders battling for the championship after 12 rounds? Never happens. A championship leader with a record low number of points? A ridiculous notion. Riders winning races one weekend, then struggling to make the top five, or even top ten the next?
A horribly transparent plot device to create tension. Championship leaders conveniently crashing, struggling with tires, or suffering bike problems? A little too convenient to be credible.
How about the supposedly colorless second rider in a team suddenly blossoming into a championship contender? The most trite of clichés, like the mousy librarian who transforms into a babe once she takes her glasses off.
The struggle of a rider swapping bikes to become competitive, making up and down progress, and a big step forward when handed a technological MacGuffin? So blatant it’s obscene. No professional writer of fiction would stoop to such depths.