MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Can racing ever be too safe?
Here are a few philosophical questions for you. Can motorcycle racing ever be too safe? Or how safe/dangerous should MotoGP be? Should MotoGP return to the Isle of Man TT and damn the consequences, or should Dorna take advantage of the trillions of dollars available from Middle Eastern oil nations keen to establish mind-bogglingly ostentatious racetracks in their kingdoms, with thousands of metres of sandy runoff at every corner?
The only reason I ask is in reaction to a couple of frankly bizarre recent moves to ‘improve’ MotoGP circuit safety. The first was at Catalunya’s Turn 10, the low-speed left-hander at the end of the back straight that claims many victims because it’s downhill, it’s bumpy, it’s made slippery by F1 cars and (possibly most importantly) it’s the last real overtaking opportunity of the lap; i.e. it’s now or never.
At last year’s Catalan GP there were 28 crashes at Turn 10, making it the most crashed-at corner of the year, but zero injuries of any consequence. This year there were 21 falls at the same corner and once again everyone who fell there was fit to race.
Nonetheless, riders were presented with a ‘safer’ alternative Turn 10, as used by F1 cars, to evaluate during June’s post-Catalan GP tests. The prime concern is a lack of run-off in case of a brake failure or collision, because the gravel trap can’t be expanded due to lack of space.
So what’s going on: has some eager health and safety and official wheedled his/her way into Dorna, determined to usher in an era where crashing and the possibility of getting hurt are impossibilities?
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.