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Busy Scissors
05-15-2005, 08:59 AM
Watched the French motoGP today on the TV and was impressed, I thought it rocked as a spectator sport, very exciting. I have a few questions:

Is MotoGP the premier motorcycle race tour in the world, or just one amongst many? There seemed to be riders from all over the place racing.

Why do the bikes not have wing mirrors? This seems like a huge handicap from the perspective of defending your position.

What does spinning mean? A few times the commentators were saying stuff like "Listen to Gitenau's bike, its starting to spin, he won't catch Rossi now"

At 28 laps, I thought the race seemed fairly short, with no opportunity for a tire change. Keeps it simple I guess.

Pedro
05-15-2005, 10:31 AM
Watched the French motoGP today on the TV and was impressed, I thought it rocked as a spectator sport, very exciting. I have a few questions:

Hey, glad to see another motoGP fan around.

Is MotoGP the premier motorcycle race tour in the world, or just one amongst many? There seemed to be riders from all over the place racing.

It's premier in the sense that it has more prestige, money and attendance than anything else. It's certainly the top of prototype racing, and carries more of a "circus" than production bikes.

Why do the bikes not have wing mirrors? This seems like a huge handicap from the perspective of defending your position.

I'll let someone else answer this. Some good reasons: because you should be looking ahead, not behind, and you can't see much anyway except in straights, where you can't purposefully keep changing your line to block a faster rider. Wind drag is also a huge factor. It's also a safety hazard in case a rider falls and leaves glass everywhere.

What does spinning mean? A few times the commentators were saying stuff like "Listen to Gitenau's bike, its starting to spin, he won't catch Rossi now"

Just means the rear tire is worn (and under/overheating sometimes) and the rider is having trouble accelerating out of the turns because of lack of grip (tire spinning). It's Gibernau by the way, not sure if that was a typo. Commentators tend to say those things a lot but it doesn't mean much coming from them, IMO. It's also a matter of riding style. I would take such considerations from someone who has never raced with a grain of salt.

At 28 laps, I thought the race seemed fairly short, with no opportunity for a tire change. Keeps it simple I guess.

I like it that way, it's not a endurance event. Just go out there, do your best and leave me time to catch up on my homework afterwards.

casdave
05-15-2005, 10:33 AM
Moto GP is the top tier of motorcycle racing, but there are three classes of GrandPrix (GP).

Moto GP is the top class, then there is 250cc and 125cc, these are regarded as feeder classes, and there used to be a couple more engine capacities but these have gone - the 50cc class and the 350cc class.

They all used to have 2 stroke engines, and the top class back then was 500cc, but the manufacturers, especially Honda, wanted to run 4 strokes, but this needed an engine capacity hike, so now all the bikes in the premier class have 1000cc 4 stroke engines.

There are other formats of bike racing(most are based on production machines modifed to the racing bodies regulations - whatever regulations happen to apply to that particular format), but GP is the prototype class, its the motorcycle equivalent in regulations as F1, there are few restrictions on what you can do, although there is a lower weight limit on the machine of around 156kilos, and a fuel capacity limit.

Technology has moved on so much that the bikes are getting too powerful for the circuits, some are turning out around 250bhp, which on a bike with such a low weight is pretty dramatic, as you will have seen.
There are proposals to reduce the engine capacity to 800cc, I'm not sure if this will be in one step down or in several steps, probably in one go as it would be very expensive to keep developing engines by stepping down in bits.

You won't find mirrors on these or any other track machines, they spoil aerodynamics, they are something that would certainly be smashed off in very short order, you'll have seen just how close these bikes get to each other, and anyway, they are not needed, the bikes are plenty noisy enough for the leader to know how close someone is and which side they are approaching.
Its also no advantage, if it were, then they would be fitted, the lead rider is only concerned with taking the best lines and making sure that others have to find the long way around, its up to the followers to make it past.

Spinning means that the back wheel, instead of making one revolution per circumferance of ground plane, loses grip and spins several times more than the ground it covers.
Uusally this is not desirable as it wears the tyres out, once they lose the depth of rubber their temperature falls and with it grip falls.

However, spinning the wheels up is desirable to a certain extent, the reason is that if you can keep your back wheel spinning faster than the travel distance when going into a corner, you can keep the engine turning over at its best rate to give you maximum torque, and when you straighten out, you don't have to wait until your engine revs climb, you just release the front brake completely and you fly out. This technique was pretty much essential in the days when the top class was 500cc two strokes since their engines tended to have a fairly narrow power band, the engines needed to be kept turning at a high rate to make sure they were making their power most optimally.

Nowadays with 4 strokes spinning the back wheel is not quite as crucial the skill it was(but is still very useful), but in the lower classes, especially the 250cc 2strokes, its still essential, and very difficult to learn, to such an extent that riders either spin up their wheels or are out of the running altogether, and if they spin and don't learn the skill they end up in hospital.

This spinning of wheels, even sometimes when the front wheel is also sliding under massive braking, is what makes it so hard for riders in other motorcycle racing to transfer to GP style as other formats are not running quite to the same absolute limits. Oddly enough US flat dirt track racing develops this skill to the extent that there have been quite a lot of very notable US riders in the past.

The flat dirt track racing is just about as far away as it is possible to get, from the corporate world of MotoGP, in terms of budgets, image, and speed, but its very relevant in terms of skill.

Tyres are pretty crucial to the whole thing, but another important point is the amount of fuel carried, which is held relatively high up on the machine(in a tank under the riders ass), and having longer races would mean carrying more fuel, or having fuel stops, along with tyre stops, and it would all be very difficult to control safely. Carrying large amounts fo fuel would change the handling of a machine considerably during a race as the total weight fell .If a badly fitted wheel falls off a racing car - its not good, but how much worse would it be on a motorcycle doing up to 220mph ?I've seen this happen even in F1 following pit stops.

Endurance is another issue, these riders are extremely fit, every corner the braking forces are like having to do a handstand with a couple of rucksacks full, the blood rushes from one place to another, causing the forearms to swell with some unfortunate riders - look up Marco Melandris problems. I doubt that riders could actually stand significantly longer events because of these physical demands.

Hauling the bike from side to side in chicanes and quick left-rights-lefts(or vice versa) is essential, the idea is to flick the bike from one side to the other before the suspension has time to unload and then have to recompress to deal with the cornering forces. It's takes pretty much the entire body to do this quickly enough.

Busy Scissors
05-15-2005, 11:26 AM
Thanks for the detailed replies, I'm guessing casdave is a motorcyling fan! I'd love to see motoGP, or any decent motorsport, replace F1 in BBC sports coverage. Tall order though, F1 seems to be ensconced in the British sports fan's psyche as some kind of Sunday afternoon ritual.

fortytwo
05-15-2005, 12:47 PM
Thanks for the detailed replies, I'm guessing casdave is a motorcyling fan! I'd love to see motoGP, or any decent motorsport, replace F1 in BBC sports coverage. Tall order though, F1 seems to be ensconced in the British sports fan's psyche as some kind of Sunday afternoon ritual.

Just to say that that it's ITV do the FI coverage not the BBC, if you're talking about television, although the Beeb do the radio broadcasts.
Also I don't think it's quite so "ensconsed" as it once was!

casdave
05-15-2005, 01:36 PM
I ride a bike only as a regular person, nothing like racing, pretty steady rider I am,but when I see what these guys do, its really something special.

I watch MotoGP on cable, you get coverage of all the races, practices and qualifying.

One great beauty of bike racing is that qualifying does not decide the race before it even starts, unlike F1 where the first four on the grid invariably contian two of the winning cars.

Today Gibernau started well down, at least in sixth place and I've seen far more humble starts result in a winner, remember last year when Rossi was put to the back of the grid because his team were caught cleaing and laying rubber dwon on his start slot ? Rossi won that.

Look at last race when Olivier Jacques started well down the order on an unfancied bike and he came second, pushing Rossi.

I like F1 but the most interesting stuff ofen happens away from the track in FIA meetings or in transfers of design personnel from one teasm to another.

Pedro
05-15-2005, 01:58 PM
Today Gibernau started well down, at least in sixth place and I've seen far more humble starts result in a winner, remember last year when Rossi was put to the back of the grid because his team were caught cleaing and laying rubber dwon on his start slot ? Rossi won that.

That's not correct casdave. You're refering to Qatar 2004 and Rossi fell when he was climbing up the order (he was in fourth place if I remember correctly when he touched outside of the tarmac with his rear tire and lost control of the bike).

But otherwise I agree with you, we've seen some spectacular recoveries, always battling it out. Recently Olivier Jacques, like you mentioned, after 7 months without riding a race bike went from 15th to 2nd place in China.

Pedro
05-15-2005, 02:34 PM
Myler Keogh if you enjoyed watching the race and want to learn what motoGP is all about you should watch this DVD: Faster (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0002W188Y/qid=1116185472/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_0/202-8824134-8029425) (official trailer here (http://www.fastermovie.com/trailer.html)). I highly recommend it*.



*I am not affiliated in any way with this product.

ticker
05-15-2005, 02:40 PM
... Commentators tend to say those things a lot but it doesn't mean much coming from them, IMO. It's also a matter of riding style. I would take such considerations from someone who has never raced with a grain of salt.

The BBC commentary team, which Myler appears to have been watching, includes Steve Parrish who has a great deal of first hand experience - Linky dink (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/motorbikes/1859932.stm)

Pedro
05-15-2005, 03:25 PM
The BBC commentary team, which Myler appears to have been watching, includes Steve Parrish who has a great deal of first hand experience - Linky dink (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/motorbikes/1859932.stm)

From your linky dink:

Steve Parrish has been part of the World Superbikes commentary team since the BBC gained the series in 2000 and will be a full-time expert in 2002.

He also provides analysis on the British Superbike Championship.

This is not WSBK nor BSB, it's motoGP.

Still, no need to nitpick. Mine was a fairly innocous statement. It's possible that the commentators the OP heard have actual racing experience, in which case I would use less salt. It's part of the job to say these things, but unless you're on the bike, it's hard to know what is really going on the racetrack to that level of detail. It's certainly not possible to absolutely conclude Gibernau "won't catch Rossi now", especially considering he did.

This reminds me, I think the OP is in the UK... You should watch Eurosport's coverage then (maybe you did), Julian Ryder and Toby Moody (plus Randy Mamola for the motoGP class) are brilliant commentators.

casdave
05-15-2005, 03:45 PM
Thaks for correcting me Pedro

That race where Rossi fell off after being relegated to the back of the grid is one that changed the relationship between Rossi and Gibernau.

Rossi blamed Gibernau's team for his relegation sionce they were the ones who are supposed to have raised the matter with the racing authorities, and he went pretty mad trying to catch up, and he nearly did.

He certainly played lots of mind games on Gibernau after that and although they were pretty good freinds before that, I think that this has cooled off.

They are not outright enemies but Rossi definately wants Gibernau to understand his place in MotoGP - behind him, which of course will never Gibernau stop pushing his hardest.

Is it possible you are Spanish ?

If so, what do you reckon to the leader in the 250cc class Danny Pedrosa ?

There are some really good riders coming through, I think its possible that Danny will move up next year, perhaps with Hector Barbera, at any rate, there looks to be some golden days ahead with the talent coming up.

It'll be like the old Biaggi, Rossi, Williams days again, in 250s.

Pedro
05-15-2005, 04:55 PM
That race where Rossi fell off after being relegated to the back of the grid is one that changed the relationship between Rossi and Gibernau.

Rossi blamed Gibernau's team for his relegation sionce they were the ones who are supposed to have raised the matter with the racing authorities, and he went pretty mad trying to catch up, and he nearly did.

It was pretty amazing his mad dash to the front and his crash was atypical. With a bit more luck he might have made it and written another page in the history books.

That matter about who "ratted" who was never conveniently explained. The complain came from Honda, after Biaggi (on a Camel Honda) was sent to the back, for sweeping the starting position with a broom (Rossi was penalized for laying down rubber using a scooter). I believe Ducati tipped of race direction to Camel's indiscretion and in turn someone at Honda accused Rossi of the same. They both went to the back of the grid.

I can understand both parties: if it's against the rules so be it, it's a shitty way to try to gain some advantage anyway and the excuse they came up with, so that Rossi would recognize his place on the grid from the skid marks, doesn't fly with me. On the other hand, I understand Rossi's reaction, it's also a shitty way to try to win a championship on a technicality like that. It clearly left Rossi fuming. His antics after he won the next race were pretty funny (he parked the bike and proceeded to sweap the tarmac wearing a t-shirt saying "Rossi's cleaning company: sweaping all dirt from the championship" or some such).

He certainly played lots of mind games on Gibernau after that and although they were pretty good freinds before that, I think that this has cooled off.

They are not outright enemies but Rossi definately wants Gibernau to understand his place in MotoGP - behind him, which of course will never Gibernau stop pushing his hardest.

After that they were not on speaking terms for a while but that has changed for the better since then. Did you not see the incident between them at the last turn in Jerez 2005?

My opinion of Gibernau is at an all time low. I used to like the guy but lately he seems more preoccupied in playing the victim card instead of trying to win races.

Is it possible you are Spanish ?

Close, but no cigar. ;) I'm portuguese actually. Good guess though, the following of motorcycling GPs in Spain is huge.

If so, what do you reckon to the leader in the 250cc class Danny Pedrosa ?

Well, since you asked...

We've had some great racing in the 250s. No complains there. The spanish armada in the 2 strokes is impressive. Lot's of talent. I think Danny is an amazing rider, he has proved has much, he can go really fast. He's not very happy in the rain but I'm not brave enough to bet any money against him. He seems to be extremely well coached. Very reserved, always playing for points. People keep saying he might be too small to ride a motoGP bike but that remains to be seen. I don't think that will be a problem but everyone is very curious to see how he does when he graduates.

Soylent Gene
05-16-2005, 01:59 AM
How does the Superbike series stack up against Moto GP? Is it a competing series?

I believe the bikes are also 1000cc, and the quality/type of racing appears similar.

Is Kenny Roberts Jr. still in Moto GP? Any other Americans?

Dorjän
05-16-2005, 09:24 AM
Amateur road-racer here:

I don't really have anything to add, you guys have pretty much covered the awesomeness that is MotoGP racing. I second the advice to rent/buy Faster , it is a wonderful movie.

I'll dare to say though, that the penultimate in motorcycle racing isn't MotoGP, but the Isle of Man TT :D

Pedro
05-16-2005, 11:36 AM
How does the Superbike series stack up against Moto GP? Is it a competing series?

I believe the bikes are also 1000cc, and the quality/type of racing appears similar.

No, not really competing, they are different formats. Both are regulated by the FIM but they have differente organizers and abide different rules, mainly technical but not only.

MotoGP use prototype bikes, designed from the ground up to go fast (under some regulations of course, like engine displacement). Superbikes are modified production bikes, those that you buy from big name motorcycle manufacturers (mainly Italian and Japanese).

The bikes are not that different these days (a somewhat subjective statement, depending on what different means to you). For example there are 1000cc 4 strokes in both championships, although WSBK is limited to 4 cylinders and motoGP is not.

As fas as the quality/type of racing goes, I'm not sure I understand the question. Yeah it's similar I guess, that's to be expected no? The best WSBK riders have beaten the times of some motoGP riders in some circuits, which is pretty incredible considering they are riding bikes modified from those that the general public can buy.

Is Kenny Roberts Jr. still in Moto GP? Any other Americans?

Kenny Roberts Jr. is still in motoGP, riding for the factory Suzuki team. There's also Nicky Hayden, former AMA superbike champion. John Hopkins has an american parent (the other one is British) and lives in the USA.


I'll dare to say though, that the penultimate in motorcycle racing isn't MotoGP, but the Isle of Man TT

Yeah but those guys are certified. :) Roadracing is in a category of its own, pretty much outlawed in continental Europe (I don't know of any exceptions). The Isle of Man TT is spectacular racing but it's difficult to make a comparison to anything else.

Soylent Gene
05-16-2005, 02:25 PM
Hope I'm not coming across as a complete idiot on this subject, but could a Moto GP bike keep up with an F1 car, or vise-versa? It seems like the bikes can accelerate and corner much faster.

IMHO - Moto GP is WAY more interesting to watch than F1. The best thing about watching F1 is the beautiful cars and the on-board camera angles. The actual racing is like watching paint dry.

Pedro
05-16-2005, 03:08 PM
Hope I'm not coming across as a complete idiot on this subject, but could a Moto GP bike keep up with an F1 car, or vise-versa? It seems like the bikes can accelerate and corner much faster.

The short answer is no, the bike can't keep up with the car. In general a motoGP bike accelerates faster but it can't compete with the amount of rubber and aerodynamical support F1 cars use to tackle corners.

Small correction, I meant to say above "...although WSBK is limited to a maximum of 4 cylinders and motoGP is not."

casdave
05-16-2005, 03:52 PM
One very major differance between WSB ans MotoGP is in the use of tyres, which are absolutely critical in any from of motorised racing.

MotoGP can use any make of tyre, though contractual deals and limits on the number of allowed qualifying tyres mean that riders are not as free to choose as they may wish.

WSB uses only one tyre manufacturer, Pirelli, and this was very controversial when it was introduced, however this and some other rule changes to air restrictors in WSB have changed this format from being a Ducati benefit, to a much more open competition....well actually its turned out now to be a Suzuki benefit.

MotoGP events are one race per meeting, WSB has two races per meeting.

You only get one chance to get it right in MotoGP.

There are more riders crossing from WSB to MotoGP, this is in line with the change from 2stroke to 4stroke machines, and there are nowadays a few riders from MotoGP riding in WSB, however its fair to say that the leading contenders in each class are not refugees from the other class, either way around.

With the exception of Colin Edwards who may just be getting it all together, he was the vest in WSB and he is proving to be very capable in MotoGP.