Simon Buckmaster: The Thin WSS Grids Are An Alarm Call
One thing that loyal readers may have noticed is that MotoMatters.com does not usually carry press releases. This is a conscious choice, as most press releases are a little too bland to be of much great interest, albeit for a number of very good reasons.
There are always exceptions, however, and the outspoken Parkalgar Honda World Supersport team manager Simon Buckmaster is very much one of them. In his latest Simon Says column, which the team sends out as a press release, Buckmaster covers a number of extremely interesting points. He discusses the reasons the World Supersport grid is so thin this year, the options the Parkalgar team is considering for 2011, and the strange qualifying schedule that has been foisted upon the World Supersport class. A very interesting read indeed.
THE biggest talking point of the moment is the reduced grids with the main focus on the Supersport class. For the opening race of the season in Australia we had only 17 riders on the grid which was of course disappointing after much fuller grids for so many years. Back in Europe we have 18 full time riders with a couple of wild cards thrown in which normally means at least 20 on the start line.
I spoke to the people at In Front at the end of last season and told them if more was not done we would be in the same position as Moto GP sooner than they thought. I must admit I did not think it would be the very next season myself. They took absolutely no notice of me anyway. Even now nobody seems that bothered and if they are they certainly have not shared their concerns with us.
When you consider Parkalgar Honda was second in the rider’s title race last year and third highest in the team standings you might think someone might take notice of our opinion. I have had a couple of discussions with In Front and we exchanged some good points which I hope will be discussed at further length and make a brighter future for everyone. If nothing else we would all have a better feeling if we thought we held some value to the In Front series as a whole.
One example of just doing something and not consulting anyone it affects is the new practice schedule. We did have a top team meeting in Magny Cours at the end of last season where we all said we would like to go back to four practice sessions and restrict testing in a bid to save costs. When we all agreed this I doubt any of us thought we would end up doing two qualifying sessions with neither of them anywhere near our race time.
I would like to state again in my opinion there is absolutely no need for two timed sessions. Just to remind everyone, Moto GP, Formula 1 and even our own Superbike series only have one; in the case of Superbike just one 12 minute session decides the first two rows. When you bear these facts in mind how on earth can anyone put up a reasonable argument that Supersport needs two? Anyway I will get off my soap box on that one and stick to the time table. We have two sessions on Friday one starts at 2pm and then a qualifying session starting at 5pm and ending at 5.45pm.
Then on Saturday we have a session of free practice which finishes at 10.30 and then we have qualifying at 4.05 pm. You might ask why the massive gap, well I will tell you - Parkin Go which sponsor the Triumph teams has done a deal to have a one-make series for sit up and beg Triumphs.
Fantastic...but surely it is not necessary to have them out practicing in place of a World Championship class - especially when they have to give rides away just to try and get more than 12 riders on the grid. One word only describes this, Ludicrous! In Front please listen and pay some attention to the class that has given and still is giving great racing and been a breeding ground to some of the leading Superbike riders now.
We are, as all teams, looking hard at our options at the moment. I love the superbike paddock and really enjoy working with the people who represent In Front. Eugene will certainly not stay in Supersport next year and I would love to take him up into Superbike and then take another young rider in Supersport to take his place and continue our fight with Ten Kate and Kawasaki for the 600cc title. However if things don’t change and teams are not dealt an improved package we will have to look seriously at the Moto 2 class. As much as I like where we are now a part of me also relishes the chance to show what we could do in Moto2.
One guy from the Moto GP paddock told me if we came we would need to employ some “Moto GP” technicians because we just don’t understand how it is. Eugene and I are confident that our Parkalgar Honda team has got what it takes to compete in Moto2.
One last thing: whilst Superbike has such strong manufacturer support from Yamaha, Suzuki, Aprilia, Ducati, BMW & Kawasaki and no one thinks there is any problem at all - just scratch the surface and see. After the second BMW team dropped out after just two races there are now only 22 riders on this grid. Now DFX Ducati has pulled out of the flyaway races this is another alarm call.
Like I said I love the atmosphere and the people in the WSB paddock. In Front please invest now and give the teams a better deal. When I came here first back in the late 90’s we had a freight package, air tickets, and hotel rooms for flyaway events plus participation allowance for European events. Now we pay for the show. We should at the very least get all our tyres and the entry fee free if we compete the whole season and as for having to pay a fee for the official tests that is just beyond belief.
In Front please take notice now before it is too late. I want to be in the paddock with you for many years to come but need you to listen and help. Over to you!
Finally, let me congratulate Eugene and our whole team on responding to the disappointment of the Portimao crash and only fifth in Valencia by taking back to back victory in Assen and Monza. Miguel also responded to disappointing rides in Assen and Valencia with 10th at Monza. Whilst he has achieved ninth in the past at Monza only Foret failed to finish and in the second half of the race his pace was good enough for at least seventh - all we have to do now is find a way to unlock the key for Miguel so he can achieve this level of performance all race weekend.
Simon Says, in association with CIA Insurance for UK bike insurance.