Tag

Italian GP

Browsing

For all the discussion of just how dangerous a track Mugello is, when a serious accident happens, it has nothing to do with the track.

Jason Dupasquier, Moto3 rider for the PruestelGP team, lost the rear at the end of Q2 for the Moto3 class and crashed. A fairly regular occurrence in Moto3, as riders push the limits of the bike.

Tragically, however, Dupasquier fell directly in front of Tech3 rider Ayumu Sasaki, leaving the Japanese rider nowhere to go. Sasaki’s KTM struck Dupasquier, leaving the Swiss rider gravely injured.

It took the FIM medical staff half an hour to stabilize Dupasquier sufficiently for him to be flown by medical helicopter to Careggi University Hospital, where he lies in critical condition at the time of writing.

Our thoughts are with Dupasquier, his family, friends, and team, and we fervently hope he makes a full recovery.

Dupasquier’s crash unmasks the elephant in the room of motorcycle racing. No matter what you do to circuits, no matter how far you push back walls, how much run off you add, it remains a dangerous sport.

If one rider falls in front of another, and is hit by the bike, serious injury, or much worse, is almost inevitable.

The only thing missing was the crowds. It was good to be back at Mugello, the most glorious jewel in the MotoGP calendar.

Like all jewels, Mugello comes with sharp edges that need handling with care, and it took rookies and regulars alike some time to get used to the sheer speed at which they blasted down the straight.

Brad Binder had been impressed. “This morning was my first time ever at Mugello on the GP bike so it took me a while to find my feet and figure out where to go because it’s a bit different to how I remember it in Moto2; the straight is quite a bit quicker!” the South African said, with a fine sense for understatement. “Turn 1 is a lot more on the limit to find a good marker.”

Contrary to expectations, Johann Zarco’s top speed record of 362.4 km/h set at Qatar was not broken, the Frenchman’s temporary Pramac teammate Michele Pirro managing a paltry 357.6 km/h in FP2.

It may not have been faster than the top speed at Qatar, but it certainly feels a lot faster.

There is nowhere that encapsulates the essence of motorcycle racing like Mugello.

The track snakes along the sides of the Tuscan valley in which it sits, echoing the country roads and mountain passes where racing first started, shortly after enough motorcycles had been made for riders to challenge each other to tests of skill and bravery.

That is precisely what Mugello is: a test of skill and bravery, of rider and machine, of guts and brains. Calculating risk is everything, both from the technical and human perspective.

When Freddie Spencer points to a particular day as the highpoint of an extraordinary career that brought about three world championships, and a near constant rewriting of the record books of the time, you’d certainly be expectant of something special. The year, unsurprisingly, was 1985. Before then, the enigmatic Louisianan had made a mockery of most operating at the pinnacle of the sport, amassing achievements and records at a dizzying rate during his teens and early twenties. No one had done so in such blazing fashion since the great Mike Hailwood two decades before. As if becoming the youngest 500cc grand prix winner at the time at just 20 years and 196 days of age in 1982 wasn’t enough, his defeating of the legendary Kenny Roberts Sr. a year later marked the arrival of a new shade of American splendor. Make no mistake, ‘The King’ brought his A-game to the table in ’83. But Freddie took his reputation to the stars as their ferocious year-long battle culminated in Honda’s first 500cc championship. By the tender age of 21 and 258 days (another new record), Spencer had already earned a place among the pantheon of the greats. Even alongside these feats, Spencer’s greatest day in the sun doesn’t disappoint: a 250cc and 500cc double at Mugello, one of motorsport’s mythical venues, in a year which saw him operating at the absolute peak of his powers. By the mid-80s it all came so easily to him he likened manhandling a 180bhp 500cc two-stroke to “getting out of bed.” 

To continue reading this story, you need to have an A&R Pro subscriber account. If you have an A&R Pro account, you can login here.

Another week, another motorcycle race postponed, with no date set for rescheduling. This week it is the turn of the Mugello and Barcelona rounds of MotoGP, scheduled to take place on May 31st and June 7th respectively.

Today, the FIM, IRTA, and Dorna announced that the Italian and Catalunya rounds of MotoGP have been postponed, and no new date has been set for them to take place.

On a normal race weekend, you might see one or two minor updates in all of the garages collectively. Factories don’t like to debut too many new parts at the same time, as there is not enough time to evaluate them effectively.

And normally, you would test one part at a time and evaluate them separately, to try to understand what difference each specific part makes.

However, there was an official test here at Misano two weeks ago, and so teams had a chance to do the preliminary sifting ahead of the race.

And that is why Valentino Rossi started FP1 with a new carbon-fiber swingarm on both of his Yamaha M1s, tested a new aerodynamic front wheel cover, and both he and Maverick Viñales had one bike each with the new double-barreled exhaust debuted at the test.

“It’s positive, because it looks like that Yamaha is working stronger now and also working in the right direction,” Rossi told us on Friday afternoon.

“For me, from the end of 2016 to the Brno test, in reality everything we test is not clearly better than the old stuff. So technically speaking it was a very difficult period and in fact the gap to the other manufacturers increased.”

“But now, from the beginning of the season something changed and have a lot of different people from Japanese especially but also Europe and it looks like now we start to see the effect.”

The first person you have to beat is your teammate. It is a truth universally acknowledged in the paddock. After all, they are on the same bike as you, with the same support, so the only difference between your results and theirs is down to ability – in theory at least.

Beat your teammate, and your team will prioritize you over them when it comes to contract renewal time, will pay you more money, will send more resources your way. If you’re in a factory team, the engineers will listen more carefully to you, and more likely to follow the direction of development you set out.

Teams use this same philosophy to motivate their riders. They encourage internal competition, hoping the two riders will push one another on to greater heights, to risk more for better results. Trying to win a race is motivation enough, but adding the frisson of showing up your teammate adds that little bit extra, the icing on the cake.

And reward enough should a rider fall short of winning. So far does this internal competition go that for most teams, the order in which rider quotes appear in the press release is determined by who is ahead in the championship, or who finished ahead during practice, qualifying, or the race.

Promoting internal rivalries is also playing with fire, however. Despite the smiling faces in the team launch photos and at PR events, the friendship is often feigned, the relationship often strained, teammates going out of their way to avoid one another.

That can lead to arguments over shared data, over updated parts, even over who goes first when speaking to the media. If the rivalry between teammates is not handled right, it can quickly become counterproductive, boiling over into internal warfare, hostility, and teammates actively working to sabotage each other, rather than serving the interests of the team.