If you thought the site had been a bit quiet recently, you are right. I seized the Easter holiday to embark on a major upgrade of the software which runs the website. As this requires a switch between major versions, this turns out to be about four times as much work as I expected. Which is almost always the way with any software upgrade.
David Emmett's blog
The 20th March 2016 will mark the tenth anniversary of the first post on what would become MotoMatters.com. Though I had started the blog almost a year earlier, intending to write about politics, philosophy, and all manner of lofty subjects, it remained terrifyingly blank until the 2006 MotoGP season started to draw near.
Dear Next Big Thing:
So you made it into Moto3. Well done. That feat alone makes you one of the most talented motorcycle racers on the planet. You may think that the hardest part of the battle is behind you. You would be wrong. You have your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder to MotoGP stardom. It is a rickety old thing, slick with grease, littered with broken rungs and what look like short cuts and easier routes.
If what happened on lap seven at Sepang was bad for MotoGP, the events which have followed have made it infinitely worse. Rossi's single act of frustration has unleashed a tidal wave of insanity which has battered MotoGP, washing away the good and leaving it battered and stained. And every time you think it has finished, yet more madness emerges to engulf the sport, dragging it further down into the depths. It is a hard time to be a fan of the most exhilarating sport on the planet.
Once upon a time, the Suzuka 8 Hour race was a big deal. A very big deal. It was the race the Japanese factories sent their very best riders to compete in, the event often being written into the contracts of the top Grand Prix and World Superbike riders as part of their factory deals. The list of big names to win the race is impressive. Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Daryl Beattie, Aaron Slight, Doug Polen, Scott Russell, Noriyuki Haga, Colin Edwards, Daijiro Kato, Alex Barros, Shinichi Itoh, Tohru Ukawa, Taddy Okada. And of course Valentino Rossi. There, they faced the very best of the Japanese Superbike riders, as well as the regulars from the World Endurance Championship, of which it forms a part.
It may have been an honor to have been asked to do the race, but the GP riders were far from keen. Held in July, the race fell right in the middle of the Grand Prix season. Racing in the event meant multiple flights to Japan for testing and practice, then the grueling race itself in the oppressive heat and humidity of a Japanese summer. It meant doing the equivalent of four Grand Prix in the space of eight hours, then rushing home to get ready for the next race. The best case scenario meant they started the next Grand Prix event tired and aching from Suzuka. The worst case was a crash and an injury that either kept them off the bike or left them riding hurt. The only benefit was that it kept the factories happy, and marginally increased a rider's chances of extending his contract with the manufacturer for a following season.
Gradually, the race fell out of favor, and more and more riders had clauses added to their contract specifically excluding them from being forced to race at Suzuka. Mick Doohan was one of the early absentees. Valentino Rossi did it twice, won it the second time around, and swore never to race at the event again. It was simply too demanding for a rider chancing a championship. In the early years of this century, the race languished in relative obscurity. The name of the event still echoed in the collective memory of race fans, but it passed without much comment. Except in Japan, where it remained the pinnacle of the JSB season, and the battleground for the Japanese manufacturers.
It is my great fortune that enough people visit this website that I can travel around Europe and attend races, and report on them from on site. Having done this as a full time job for six seasons now, I have gained a fair amount of experience on the various bits and pieces of equipment that I need to do my job as effectively as possible. If you have aspirations of becoming a motorcycle racing blogger or journalist, here's a guide to the essential kit you will need.
QUESTIONS ARE NOW CLOSED
One of the best things about running MotoMatters.com (apart from the opportunity to get so close and learn so much about racing motorcycles and the people who are involved with them) is the interaction I have had with readers. I am regularly complimented by people in the paddock on the intelligence and thoughtful tone of the comments on the website. Indeed, I am sometimes put to shame by them, the comments being far more interesting and insightful than the story which appears above them.
I'm here at last. After three days, 1497 kms and 18 hours in the saddle, I have checked in to my hotel on the outskirts of Florence. The last day was definitely the best day, except perhaps for the last few miles, but that's a whole different story.
Day two of my trek to Mugello was the highlight of the trip, when seen from the comfort of the desk in my office. From southern Germany through Austria, taking in a pass or two, then on into Italy and a choice of options, depending on my mood and the time I would need to find lodgings.
Day 1 is in the books, and it was a pretty decent day's riding. A little over 700kms from my home near Arnhem in the Netherlands, down to Cologne and then crossing the Rhine to follow the western route southwards via the A61. It is a far more scenic road, avoiding the heavy traffic of the Ruhrgebiet, skirting the Eifel mountains and passing just east of the Nurburgring. South of Koblenz, and the road crosses the Moselle valley. On the steep northern slopes of the Moselle, the road authorities have built a viewing point and service station, where you can admire the view.
The wonderful thing about working in MotoGP is being surrounded on all sides by motorcycles. It is therefore rather ironic that one of the downsides to working in MotoGP is that it leaves you with very little time to actually ride a motorcycle yourself. Your days are taken up with hanging around in airports, travel back and forth to race tracks, chasing news and information, managing a website, and a large amount of utterly unglamorous but exceptionally necessary administration.
The ongoing success of MotoMatters.com means we have to expand. Monday 31st March and Tuesday 1st April, we will be moving from one server to a new one, with more processing power, more memory, and better able to handle the demands of growing traffic.
As the final few moments of 2013 tick away (in this part of the world; for some readers, it is already 2014), we would just like to take a moment and say a big thank you to all our readers for your support and contributions this year. Thanks to everyone for reading the site, to the people who post such well-informed and well-thought out comments, and to everyone who has supported us. A special thanks goes out to everyone who has either donated or become an official site supporter by taking out a subscription.
In 1952, Doris Lessing, a Nobel prize-winning author, was one of a group of writers and prominent intellectuals who visited the Soviet Union, then in the iron grip of Joseph Stalin, one of history's greatest criminals and murderers. She was introduced to the political leaders of the country, and escorted around the nation by the Russian secret police. Lessing, along with the others on the trip, returned home to write gushing praise of the Soviet Union, describing it as 'a land of hope.'
This vacancy has now been filled. We are NOT currently hiring at the moment. Thanks to everyone for their applications.
As MotoMatters.com grows and evolves, the time has come to expand our merry band of helpers. To this end, we are looking for someone to provide race and practice summaries for every session of Moto2, Moto3 and MotoGP for the 2013 MotoGP season, and post the results on the website. We need your help.