With the holiday season upon us, the world of motorcycle racing has entered its annual period of hibernation. There is very little going on in terms of MotoGP or WorldSBK, riders, teams, and factories all spending time with their families.
David Emmett's blog
We have had a lot of people asking us over the past few weeks whether we will be producing our usual 2017 MotoMatters.com Motorcycle Racing Calendar. The good news is that the answer is yes, we will. The bad news is that we are running badly behind in production, meaning it will not be ready in time for Christmas.
The current plan is for printing to start in the next few days, but that will probably mean it will not be ready to be shipped in time for Christmas. We do hope to be able to ship in time for the start of the new year. As soon as we have a production date, we shall put the calendar on sale on the website.
The round up from Sunday's three races at the Motorland Aragon circuit has been delayed. Ill health (nothing serious, just a severe bout of flu, and not of the 'man' kind) means I am unable to concentrate sufficiently to produce the quality of work my readers expect and deserve. The aim is to have the round up on the website on Tuesday.
My sincere apologies for the inconvenience and delay.
Today, we have a very special guest blog, for a remarkable young man. A year ago today, on 5th July 2015, Spanish Superbike champion and former Moto2 racer Kenny Noyes crashed his Palmeto Kawasaki ZX-10R during warm up for a round of the FIM CEV Spanish Superbike championship. The bike hit a wall and rebounded into Kenny, striking him on the head. The impact caused severe head trauma, and Kenny was flown to a nearby hospital, where he received treatment.
Since then, Kenny has worked tirelessly on his recovery, with the support of his family. He has made incredible progress for someone with such a severe injury, with the racer's fixation on the goal: to race again sometime. His story is one of hope for anyone who suffers a severe injury, and proves that with the right support and the right attitude, you can do much more than anyone might reasonably expect.
That Kenny should make such a recovery is less of a surprise to me. I first met Kenny through his father, Dennis Noyes, who at the time was commentating on MotoGP for Spanish TV. Dennis was unfailingly kind and helpful to me in the early part of my career, and so when Kenny got a ride in the Moto2 championship, I wrote press releases for him for a while. I got to know Kenny reasonably well over the years, seeing at close hand the highs and lows which motorcycle racing can bring.
The overwhelming impression I got from Kenny was of a racer's determination. Even in the darkest moments, when he was left with impossible mountains to climb, Kenny kept a firm belief in himself and his abilities. If he just tried hard enough, he knew he could achieve much more than anyone expected. That dedication and optimism, a trait shared by his family, is what helped Kenny get where he is today.
"MOTORSPORTS CAN BE DANGEROUS" it says on the back of my media pass, the hard card I wear around my neck and which gives me access to the paddock and the media center. It says the same thing everywhere around the circuit: on rider passes, on the back of tickets, on signs which hang on fences around the circuit.
You see it so much that it becomes a cliché, and like all clichés it quickly loses its meaning. Until reality intervenes, and reminds us that behind every cliché lies a deep truth.
Friday brought a stark reminder. During the afternoon session of free practice for the Moto2 class, Luis Salom exited Turn 11 and got on the gas towards Turn 12. Just before the turn, traveling at around 170 km/h, the riders caress the front brake to help the bike turn through the fast right hander of Turn 12, an engineer told me. At that point, Salom lost control of his bike, fell off, and he and his bike headed towards the air fence which protects the wall there. They slid across a patch of tarmac put in to help the cars if they run straight on at that corner, and Salom's bike hit the air fence and wall, careened off the wall and into Salom, fatally injuring him.
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.
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.