Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I wanna ride ... soon.

Almos has tickled my desire for riding with the video of a new '08 GSX-R 600 tested in Misano Adriatica, Italy. Supposedly it is a bone stock bike in the hands of an evidently skilled rider. The fast double right turn? Definitely in apnea!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Motorcycle Racing: a long and deep passion

By Jimmy Martin

When I was a young kid in the 1980s, Barry Sheene was a national hero in the UK. Not only was he double 500cc Grand Prix world champion, but his cockney charms gained him literally millions of fans. What amazed me as a youngster was that Sheene's skeleton was held together with various metal plates and screws, mainly thanks to his rear tyre exploding at 178mph on the banking at Daytona. I mean, setting off airport metal detectors with your body, how cool is that?

I didn't get to see much 500GP racing because the BBC only televised the British GP, so my love of motorcycle racing was really formed by TV coverage of British national bike series such as F1. One of the coolest bikes in history came along in the early 1990s: the Norton rotary F1. With a sleek black colour scheme and the spine-tingling howl of its crazy Wankel rotary engine, if Darth Vader rode a motorcycle it would be this one.

Around the mid-1990s there was a shake up of the British racing scene with the introduction of an all-new British Superbike championship. My fellow Scotsman Niall McKenzie had taken podiums in 500GP, and he won the first 3 BSB titles in a row with his smooth, calm riding style, despite making atrocious starts in nearly every race. His main rivals in those 3 years were his Yamaha team-mates, who were Steve Hislop, Jamie Whitham and Chris Walker. The late Steve Hislop was a Scotsman who had won many Isle of Man TT races. He was an extremely quick rider who usually thought that his bike was unrideable and that the entire world was lined up against him (very Biaggi-like in that respect), but was a fans' favourite. Jamie Whitham's hair-raising riding style was reminiscent of Ruben Xaus. Whitham claimed that he used the race number 69 because it looks the same when it's upside-down in a gravel trap. He is now a TV commentator known for his outrageous sense of humour. Chris Walker took a double victory at the first British Superbike round that I attended at Knockhill, Scotland. Knockhill is a short, twisty track in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sheep-covered hillsides. Turn one is a mirror image of the Laguna Seca corkscrew: turn right, plummet off the edge of the world and remember to turn left when you reach the bottom. There is a chicane insanely situated on the crest of a hill, with the start-finish line on the crest of another. The track's only hairpin sits in a natural arena filled with crazed fans, making it more like a rock concert than a bike race.
This is where I was standing when Walker, by then a Suzuki rider, passed Neil Hodgson's Ducati for the lead. The crowd, who were bigger fans of "The Stalker" than of the clean-cut Hodgson, erupted with joy as if Ozzy Osbourne had just bitten the head off a chicken in front of them. Walker repaid the compliment by stopping for a huge victory burnout, choking us half to death on rubber smoke as we were so close to the track.

Ducati dominated superbike racing at the time, and it was electrifying to stand just fifteen yards away while a pack of Ducatis thundered past at 150mph, the ground shaking under your feet. In between them were the screaming 4-cylinder Japanese bikes, making the kind of noise that a UFO would be proud of. These are the experiences that created my passion for motorcycle racing. I don't care whether a bike is a prototype or a road bike with the headlight removed. As long as the racing is close and the riders are crazy, I'll be watching.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Chupa Chups: to suck is good for you!

Out of curiosity I have searched Chupa Chups, the big logo displayed on Lorenzo’s X-Lite helmet to discover that it’s a Spanish lollipop created by a certain Enric Bernat in 1958 and now owned by the Italian-Dutch corporation Perfetti Van Melle. The simple, essential and straightforward logo was designed by the surrealist Salvator Dali’, in what could be a perfect example of less is more. The name Chupa Chups originates from chupar, Spanish verb meaning to suck.

As Rossi has openly admitted in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, he had request Yamaha to postpone the acquisition of the new young talent, however it was not possible so, even though he has still “ to get in front” of him, once it will happen, Lorenzo will be an extra stimulus to improve.

The Spaniard has already let people know that he will not be the Colin of the past: he is in MotoGp to win. His skills and potential are proven, but so far he has struggled in getting the right feeling from the M1 to lower significantly his lap time. Lorenzo has justified his results with a lack of confidence in the front end coumpounded by an annoying vibration. As Jim has written in his blog Armchairbikefan, there is a good chance that Jorge will have to change his riding style, maybe shaving a bit of entrance speed to focus more in accelerating at the exit of the turn using the traction control at its full potential. Lorenzo should keep in mind that Stoner has won a World Championship by skyrocketing out of the turns while his ex teammate Capirossi, consistently faster than him in the first part of the corners, finished the season with a meager 7th position.
Normally a new and young rider would keep a low profile in order to absorb or better steal as much as he can from the more experienced teammate, but this is not the case of Lorenzo. He is openly in competition with everybody starting from Rossi. That’s why they have separated their garages with a wall or they have recently had an “accident” when one of Rossi’s crew-members was invited to leave immediately Lorenzo’s pit area.
The swellheaded Lorenzo will undoubtedly add salt to the coming season, but his egocentric attitude is going to draw a lot of attention and critics: anything less than an exceptional performance will remind us of the English meaning of chupar

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sepang: it could have even better if …

The tests in Sepang, maybe one of the most positive test in Rossi’s career, as stated by the seven time World Champion, could have been even better if …that sensor line connected to the front brakes and/or to the fork of his M1 was not bent by the upper fender! Yes, if you pay attention to the details of the above picture you will notice that under braking the line ended up out of the plastic instead of staying loose close to the forks.

Indeed today was a great day for Vale: he went faster of the previous two days considering that he was able to put ride 14 laps at 2’01 and his best lap, the 20th it was at 2’01.437, almost a second faster than his best lap in his last Gp in Malaysia.
In the interview at the end of the day beside recalling the work done on the electronic, the engine and the elimination of a vibration generated from the front tire, Rossi appeared extremely satisfied not only with his record, but especially with the consistence in his long runs, at race pace. To go fast until the end of the test he had to change a bit his lines to keep working with the tires: this is exactly what it helped him in winning his last few World championships. When everybody else was slowing down because of lack of grip he was squaring off the turns spinning the rear. Now I doubt that he did that today considering the traction control on the new bikes, but I am sure that a different arch must have give him some unused rubber for his final laps.
Last but not least, he pointed out that it has been a long time since last time he had so much pleasure in riding, and now he cannot wait the Jerez’s tests to ride with the rest of his competitors.

Source: motoblog.it

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

MotoGp: Rossi sets a new Record in Sepang

After flying from his M1 a few weeks ago Valentino came back to Sepang to fly again, but this time on the bike setting up a new record: 2’00.300 shadowing Nicky Hayden’s time of 2’00.326 clocked only 12 days ago.
Bastoner (the nickname given by the Italians to the Aussie, where bastone is a wood stick, as to say that he is the guy that kicks everybody’s butt) is not in Sepang, nor the rest of the fast guys. It would have been interesting to see in Sepang Pedrosa riding the new 2008 Repsol, but unfortunately he is still recovering from the recent surgery. Last week or so I read that he had openly claimed ” … historically every time Hayden has been responsible with the development it was not beneficial …”. On the other end Hayden has been working hard on the track to squeeze as much as he can from the winter tests, almost proving Randy Mamola’s theory according to which Hayden has never really get used to the 800cc and therefore, he will need to adapt his riding style to become more competitive.
Talking about challenges in acclaiming to new bikes, Melandri has having hard time in riding World Champion Ducati, with a probable satisfaction for Capirossi. Ducati has always been a bike for a few and not for everybody, and even if Macho will have to invest some time to learn how to use the full potential of the Red Missile, his effort could be paid off with a series of victories.
Tomorrow, Vale will have another chance to improve; let’s see what happen, but in the meantime check the funny Photoshop that Almos has found on mcnews.com.