Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Japanese Grand Prix '91: final laps

Kevin Shwantz name is linked to Suzuki. A bike that gave him a 500cc World Championship in 1993 and 25 Grand Prix victories in his carreer, but that never looked faster than his competitors' bikes, Honda and Yamaha. Regardless, Kevin Schwantz always seemed to fill this performance gap with his own determination, his will to win at all costs like in this great video. I am sure that everybody is able to recognize the 4th rider's helmet, my favorite one for a long time.
Also scroll down the list of names in the final classification (as per, there is a certain Alex Barros .... 15 years ago!

500cc Race Classification

P.No. Rider Nat Total Time km/h Diff. Motorcycle

1 34 K.SCHWANTZ USA 48'35.747 159.147 Suzuki
2 3 M.DOOHAN AUS 48'35.951 159.136 0.204 Honda
3 1 W.RAINEY USA 48'36.001 159.133 0.353 Yamaha
4 19 J.KOCINSKI USA 48'36.303 159.117 0.556 Yamaha
5 5 W.GARDNER AUS 49'11.058 157.243 35.311 Honda
6 7 E.LAWSON USA 49'20.662 156.733 44.915 Cagiva
7 6 J.GARRIGA SPA 49'31.577 156.157 55.830 Yamaha
8 10 A.PONS SPA 49'44.063 155.504 1'08.316 Honda
9 41 K.IWAHASHI JPN 49'44.120 155.501 1'08.373 Honda
10 12 A.BARROS BRA 49'51.049 155.140 1'15.302 Cagiva
11 21 D.CHANDLER USA 49'51.342 155.125 1'15.595 Yamaha
12 20 A.MORILLAS FRA 49'54.675 154.953 1'18.918 Yamaha
13 9 K.MAGEE AUS 49'56.646 154.851 1'20.899 Suzuki
14 27 D.RADIGUES BEL 49'58.219 154.769 1'22.472 Suzuki
15 46 P.GODDARD AUS 49'58.443 154.758 1'22.696 Yamaha
16 28 S.ITOH JPN 50'14.578 153.930 1'38.831 Honda
17 45 T.HOMMA JPN 50'17.444 153.783 1'41.697 Yamaha
18 37 K.MACHII JPN 50'17.652 153.773 1'41.905 Yamaha
19 40 S.TSUJIMOTO JPN 50'30.699 153.111 1'54.952 Suzuki
20 36 H.MIYAGI JPN 50'30.960 153.098 1'55.213 Honda
21 25 T.ARATA JPN 49'15.463 149.872 1 Lap Yamaha
22 16 C.DOORAKKERS NED 50'16.054 146.861 1 Lap Honda

Would you ride the racetrack along with cars?

The title of this video is "Nurburgring - Doohan and the Speedfreak vs the ring taxi". Doohan? Don't ask me. The interesting component is the mix of cars and bikes. I wouldn't feel confortable with a car trying to pass me on the brakes, and you?

Monday, May 29, 2006

1991 Hockenheim: Schwantz vs Rainey

Kevin Schwantz's rivalry with Wayne Rayney characterized the MotoGp era that goes from the end of the 80’s to the beginning of the 90's. I started watching those races because of my brother, but it didn’t take much before those epic battles became my passion. Beside Schwants and Rainey I remember other incredible talents as Mamola, Gardner, Lawson and Doohan that raced until 1999 when he left his Honda to Valentino.
The video is emblematic because recalls Schwantz’s typical pass on the inside of his competitor, with the rear of his bike fish-tailing in a way so different from today's rear brake controlled sliding.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mugello: let's get ready!

How many times we heard or read that pilots get accustomed to a new track by using videogames? Well, let's get ready for our appointment with the Mugello. Television and on board cameras are not enough to describe this gorgeus but challenging track.

A good laugh … only for the Italian friends

A tribute to Capirossi's self control

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Road Racing School: Pocono Raceway North Course

Yesterday our (Robert Lombardi and Alex Matteucci) Road Racing School was in Pocono Raceway (PA) with the NYSBC. We had great time and a lot of satisfaction with the “students” improving dramatically from one session to the other one in a racetrack made challenging by his famous cement patches coupled by a strong, cold wind.
A few comments posted on the club’s forum:

“my first track day it was awesome!!!!!!!!! much more track time than i anticipated, very well organized ..and the school with rob and alex out of this world. canbt wait for the next one!!!!!!!
could not believe the kneedragging of those two all the way around the embankment at over 130

just overall a great day thanks guys “
- great job by you and Rob with the students. I run in the intermediate group but i missed the first session after lunch, i went out with the beginner group and they looked pretty good out there.


This afternoon I met one of the student, Rick Schwarz. He works for Absolute Cycle Performance in NJ and while commenting his own experience at the school he showed me an amazing video. Rick was the fastest rider in the class, so in the afternoon we decided to let him ride in the Intermediate group. Well, while blasting on the banking at 130mph + he filmed the following crash:

Fortunately nothing happened to the rider on the black Yamaha.
Now if you want to experience the accident from the rider perspective you want to watch this video
During the day I had the opportunity to ride the upper side of the banking: the cocktail of speed, bumps and G-force easily convinced me to abandon the exploration of those lines. I wouldn't be surprised if the bike given the conditions couldn't hold the grip.

Pictures: for more pics covering the event visit

Round 5: Alice Grand Prix of France

At this point I do have a request for the goddess Fortuna: spin that wheel because we want Rossi to be able to finish a race. After being t-boned by Elias in Jerez and withdrawing from the race because a faulty front Michelin tire in China, last Sunday in Le Mans Valentino ended his race because of the engine of his Yamaha at only 8 laps to the end when he had almost 4 sec on the second rider, Danny Pedrosa. Since the free practice on Friday, Rossi seemed optimistic about the race because of the new frame built to eliminate the chattering of his bike. On Saturday he qualified only 7th but he was very consistent during the hour, as he seemed to work more on the set up than the actual grid: regardless, the first row with Pedrosa, Nakano and Hopkins was not at his reach.
On race day the show was on: the TV was focusing on Hopkins and Pedrosa flying ahead of the rest of the group when Valentino appears on the “on board camera” mounted on Pedrosa’s bike. My impression was that Valentino had overshot the turn trying to pass the Spaniard, but right afterward the surprise effect was doubled when Rossi effortlessly passed Hopkins during the 4th lap. From that point on Valentino left the group in the dust until his engine stopped working at the 20th lap. Pedrosa potential victory didn’t last much: he had chosen soft front – soft rear claiming his concern for the wind and the low temperature in a track with long straights. My feeling is that Danny technically is still with a foot in the 250cc world and is still learning how to manage a lot of hp in poor gri conditions. In any case, Pedrosa in the last 5 laps was passed at beginning by Melandri and then, right at the last few corners, by the aggressive Capirossi.
Interesting to notice is that in Le Mans, for the first time in the last 8 races (2005/2006) Hayden didn’t make the podium. One thing is certain: if Valentino misfortune will end, he is not going to give away the first place on the podium to anybody so the rest of the contenders will race only for the other “two steps”.

Picture source

Monday, May 22, 2006

It would't belong to 2WSP if it wasn't for ....

My friend Almos from 666 Cycles in Brooklyn has suggested this video.

MotoGP Poll: Gran Premio D'Italia

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Once again ...., I don't want to ask who is going to win the next race because it will reduce too much the number of potential riders. For every race I am going to suggest the first 7 riders in the championship as candidates to "miss the victory", and in case we have the same rider classifying 2nd twice consecutively, in the next poll we will try to guess the 3rd place rider's name. Scroll up and down to read the whole list and click on one of the choices. The poll will be immediately updated.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A few laps with the new Yamaha R6R

Great video for anybody that, like me, has not tested the new R6 yet.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

MotoGp Poll: Alice Grand Prix of France

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As stated in my first poll, I don't want to ask who is going to win the next race because it will reduce too much the number of potential riders. Again, for every race I am going to suggest the first 7 riders in the championship as candidates to "miss the victory", and in case we have the same rider classifying 2nd twice consecutively, in the next poll we will try to guess the 3rd place rider's name. Scroll up and down to read the whole list and click on one of the choices. The poll will be immediately updated.

Round 4: Polini Grand Prix of China

Sunday, starting from the pole position Danny Pedrosa had a clear goal: destroy the competition. Who knows what he thought after the poor start that relegated him in 5th position at the end of the first lap while the Americans, Edwards and Hopkins were already trying to establish a gap from the rest of the group. My impression is that he didn’t want to take any chance of waiting too long and then being forced to recover at an unsustainable risky pace like in Turkey where in ended up crashing. Different race, different strategy: take the lead of the race and transform it in a competition against the time. If it worked in 250, it can work even in GP! Once Pedrosa passed Gibernau, he took him another 6 laps, or the first half of the race, to reach Hokpkins and Edwards. From that point on it was a matter of keeping an eye on the board displayed by his team at the finish line to maintain Hayden at a safe distance. The Kentuky kid spent the whole race chasing the Spaniard and when in the last few laps he tried to escalate the pace, Pedrosa went even faster in the following lap, to the point to set his best time right at the end of the race. Hayden was unuasually smooth going into the turns, but not enough to match Pedrosa’s corner speed.

The petit ex 250 world champion is definetely experiencing an advantage on the brakes, but size doesn’t matter when is compensated by skills. My claim is proved by Rossi’s performance.

A faulty bike and a lousy qualifying session put him in 13th place at the start of the race. A lot of credit to the Reigning Champion: his perfomance was absolutely astonishing. When he had to abandon the race because of a huge hole on his front Michelin tire he was in 5th position ready to attack Hopkins and Edwards for a podium finish. Now the situation with the M1 and the Michelin is at least embarassing. The Tavullia Champion has been doing miracles with the “package” offered to him, but for how long can he sustain this situation before cracking mentally?
A clap to Stoner! Not only crashed during the practice and the warm up: he run off in the grass during the race and he was still able at the end of the day he conquer a solid 5th place.
A boo to Melandri! That fight on the brakes with Valentino at the beginning of the race was unnecessary UNLESS he was obeying like a soldier to the “HONDA’s orders”.

Picture #1: source
Picture #2: source

Thursday, May 04, 2006

MotoGp Poll: Grand Prix of China

Create polls and vote for free.

In creating this poll I didn't want to ask who is going to win the next race because it will reduce too much the number of potential riders. Instead for every race I am going to suggest the first 7 riders in the championship as candidates to "miss the victory".
Scroll up and down to read the whole list and click on one of the choices. The poll will be immediately updated.

Casey Stoner and Freddie Spencer’s record: rectification

In my recent post I claimed that Casey Stoner was still in race to win the record of youngest rider winning a MotoGP race. Well, unfortunately I was wrong because as reported by last Sunday Stoner had exactly the same age of Spencer (20 years and 196 days) at his first victory at the GP in Belgium at the Spa Francorchamps circuit. I didn’t check the calculations but I am positive that they made a mistake with the year. They indicate 1992 but the correct date is July 4th, 1982.

The following year, 1983, Freddie Spencer became the youngest World Grand Prix Champion in history.

Picture source

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The versatility of the GSR-R engines

Last March DaimlerChrysler announced that sometime in 2006 or the latest in 2007 will start to distribute the Smart Fortwo, a really small and light car (microcar) very popular in Europe and in Japan. The engine range is composed of only a turbocharged three cylinder 700cc motors capable of 50 hp, more or less according to the configuration. In the Old Continent people have been zipping with the Smarts in the congested cities for years so it is easy to find them at cheap prices if they were involved in accidents. As you can imagine it must be easy to find savaged bikes too, so some passionate Spaniards have had the idea to spice up an old Smart with a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 engine with 200hp. Researching the net I was able to find another similar project, the Smartuki (article 1 and 2), much more refined from what I can depict from the pictures.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Round 3: Instabul Park Circuit - Turkey

“What a show (Che spettacolo)". This is the sentence printed on a shirt that Rossi had on right after a victory some time ago. Well, last Sunday we had to thank other riders for the show they put together in the gorgeous Turkish circuit. Melandri was the first one to pass under the checker flag but with him other people have won my heart and my mind. Let’s start from Melandri: his race was just perfect, saving the tires for a final where majestically out braked Stoner on the inside going into the final chicane . I am tempted to think that given the type of circuit he preferred to let Stoner to lead the last lap taking advantage of the draft and the objective difficulty in protecting the entrance of that critical turn .
The 21 year old Stoner, second at the end of the race, has won the helm of new star of the circuit. The Australian proved that the incredible performance was not accidental. The accident was instead losing this race after riding like a veteran. He knew the track and Melandri’s strategy so he pushed as much as he could to gain a couple of bikes on him going to the final hill, but his plan failed short with the complicity of a lack of extra speed versus Melandri. At this point everybody is betting on him being able to take Freddie Spencer’s record of youngest rider ever in winning a GP race.
Hayden’s third place has given him the lead of the MotoGP World Championship. A position built on 3 consecutives podium. His consistency will probably give him a new contract with Honda at the end of the year, but … with Pedrosa as first rider. His fans are going to hate me for this but I believe that Nicky has not built yet the skills to out bit consistently his competitors. Yes he is fast, but Sunday race, as others in the past, proved that when the bike starts sliding he goes back to his AMA days by backing out the bike and sliding in sideway to the entrance of the turn: technique spectacular to see but not efficient on GP because it seems to reduces too much the mid/exit turn speed. Also I notice his tendency to make out the gap accumulated at the exit of the turn with late-deep braking at the following turn with a compounding effect of the original problem. This is my modest opinion, but the time will tell if I was wrong.
4th place: Rossi. Valentino Sunday won the odds against him. Starting in 11th place he arrived very close to Hayden after overshooting a turn in lap 2 and wasting almost 3 seconds. With great focus and skills he was able to go back toward the front of the race and with a couple of other laps maybe he could have taken a podium position. Regardless he is only 12 points away from Hayden and still in position to win the championship. His ability to ride above the problems gives him the authority to criticize the chattering without becoming a whiner.
A round of applause to Elias, Vermuelen, Hopkins, Gibernau, Pedrosa, Capirossi and Nakano. Their final classification is not representative of their race performance but everything makes to think that they will be among the protagonists of this competitive championship.

Picture source