Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1996 05 29

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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IN THE PADDOCK By Michael Scot! he cyn ics among yo u wi ll have no trouble in appreciating the iron y of th e track in vasion at th e Spanish and Pri x. Inflamed with passion, the ns broke through the barri er s to ur ge ngtime ra ce leader Alex Cri v ill e ward to his first home GP win. The feet, he later said, had ruined his race. ncentration b roken by the firecracks ex p lo d in g around hi s wheel s, he en fell victi m to Doohan's last-corner tack by cras hing. (As if anybody had pected a different outcome.) What most other GP fa ns will find fficult to understand is th e passion at d rov e these fans to risk their lives in is extraordinary wa y. Spain is different. This cou n try is rand Prix crazy . Th ere's no danger ere of production-based Superbikes king any sort of pr eceden ce, no matt er )W fast they go (and Corser's Du cati cently broke th e 500cc lap record at itain ' s Donington Park). Being more an three-qua rters o f the way them lves to being plumb loco, the Spaniards ve a good understanding that a 500cc P is maximum madn ess on two wheels, d they accord the machines and their ders the respect they deserve. Ma dn e s s p e r fe ctl y d e s cr ib e s the anis h com m itmen t to GP racing. It as summed up for me by Alberto Pu ig, iming ba ck from a horre ndous injury try to win aga in this yea r. I met him the foyer of the hotel on the eve of the rs t race. He was h ob b li n g pitifully. ow was h e getting on ' w it h riding? y right leg is wor se tha n Doo han's , I ve no feeling or movement. I've had to itch to a thumb-op er ated rear brake e his. It's very difficu lt to adju st. Every me I try to u se it h ard I cras h. But I ust learn how to go fast, and if I crash, en I cras h ." Som ewh at a la rmed , I plied fatuously th at h e shoul d n' t d o ythi ng silly. "Silly. Of course I ha ve to silly. Grand prix racing is very silly," responded . Rather sensi bly, I thought. It helps a lo t that Spain ha s th e climate, the cou n try side and the empty roads that make mot orcycling a genuine . p leasure, rather than an ordeal relieved by mere passing phases of ecstasy. Likewise the fact that the social conn otati ons are different - in Spain it is qu ite possible to OWn a motorcycle and a car withou t having to cope with an identity crisis; there's little of th e "the m and u s" feeling that afflicts motorcycling else wher e and means th at bike racers are seen by the public at large first as greasy yobs and only second as highl y skilled sp orts me n. But the main thin g is the madness of it all. In Spain, ima ge is more than substance, and the images are stro ng. Here' s one: The policemen at Jerez are rather magnificent. Their uniforms a re reple te w ith arcane badges and p ocket-epau lets, tri m med with highly polished leather fittings for swords and powder horns and th e like. The most magnificent of them ride on ho rseback, an d are skilled at selecting a sui table skyline upon w hich their s t ru tt in g progress can make the maximum visual impact. Police Presence takes a capital P her e. Mean while, down amo ng the people, an unmanned police car rolled in to the cro w d, serious ly injuring fou r peop le; a little later the crowd invaded the track. Never mind. It' ll give them a better va ntage point to see the cavalry. No wonder the Spanish GP sce ne is rich wi th such bizarre characters (a phenomenon that h as b een going on for generations - there is nothing new abo u t the Spanish passion for GP racing) . There are th e riders : gruff and cu ltu red Pu ig; tim id, pointy-nosed Criville: grizzled vetera n tin y guy Jorge Martinez - still going hard enough to cras h out of th e lead of the youth ful 125cc maelstrom at 34; and a bunch of othe rs. They have mad scientists, too. Antonio Cobas is the engi nee r credited with devisin g the cu rren tly univer sal twin - beam frame design , and who presently coaxes indecently good performance out o f the NSR Honda s of Puig and fa st rookie Carl os "Ch ubby" Checa, Cobas is lucid ab out motorcycl es, th ough running rather rapidl y in to ar eas of lofty theorizin g. But he reall y gets going if he get s onto his real hobb y hor se - the creation of a radical hi gh-tech rapid-transit system for his home town of Barcelona. Spain kno ws h ow to treat their GP heroes as heroes. Switch on almost any TV chann el around abou t GP time and you're likel y to see one or another o f them on a chat show or generall y being feted. Spani ards are not embarrassed by performin g hero w orship. They also d on 't indul ge in th e British sport o f building sta rs up th en knocking them down a ga in . Thir te en times t id d le r champion Angel Nieto is a revered hero, and remains admi red as a TV commentator, even though he is completely use- . less at the job . Barry Shee ne wisely moved to Au stralia before he fell victim to the Phil Read syndrome, where, curi ously enough, he works as an extremely able TV commentator, among o ther things. Spain's dedication to GP raci ng ha s brought several rewards. For example, it was here that Kenny Robe rts chose to insti tu te his di rt-track riding school (the rewards went both ways, of course, w ith backing from a governme nt sports institu te) ; while a pool of s po nsors above and beyond the obvious tobacco and trade backers means support trickles down to the privateers as well as the top men. How different for Britain's highly promisi ng 250 and 125cc riders Jamie Rob inson and Darren Barto n, bo th of w hom ha d to look abroad for backin g. Th ere are a lso so me p ena lt ies for their passion. Back in 1991, when team s' associatio n IRTA triggered a ski rmish for GP po wer, it was Spanish TV righ ts m a rk etin g co mpa ny Dorn a w ho emerged On top, in league with Bernie Ec c l e s t o n e , ha v in g secu r e d the deal for the official tr aditiona l World Ch ampionship series for 10 yea rs. They paid th e FIM dearl y for the p rivilege: more than $5m illi on p er a n nu m, ri sin g to take account of inflation . Within 12 months, th ey were p aying aga in, an other $50 m illion-plus to Ecclest on e, to take over his share. Financially, though things are never qu ite as simple as they see m, they have never really recovered. Five ye ars later, th e cynics' prediction s are cornin g to pa ss. Ecc1estone (an Englishman who virtually owns Fe1 car racin g, as if yo u needed reminding) is curren tly nego tiating to buy h imself back in. And vou can bet it will be at a subs tantially ieduced pri ce. Sp anish en th u s iasm for GP racing gave Dorn a a di stort ed v ie w of its worldwide popularity. Inflamed by the same pa ssion th at drew those spectators trackside at Jerez, they rushed headlong into ba ttle, and a re now pa yi ng th e price. Bu siness is apparently still one thing the others do better than them. Still, yo u have to be silly, don't you, or else you 'll nev er have any fu n . Ins tead of th e do lefu l feat ures of Dorna's beleagu er ed managing d irector as he confirmed that negotiations wi th Ecc1estone we re well advanced , a more enduring image of this year's mar velou s Spanish GP comes from the slow-down lap after Biaggi had won a third masterful 250cc victory of the four-r ace-old season. Stopping trackside to grab one of those Italian flags that always.seem to appear fro m somewhere, he instead found a huge whole ham thrust into his han d . Some w ha t confuse d, he rode half a lap w ith the pi g' s hindquarter s d angling from his ha nd, before th ankfu lly excha ng ing it for a flag at th e firs t oppo rtunity. Even crazy Italians aren' t as mad as the Spa nish. 1:- I┬ĚLO KINGBACK... O YEARS A GO... N E8,1971 leaning every section but one, Rich Bledsoe was the verall wi n ner at th e ird annual SCTA wo-Day Trials at the orse Springs Ca m prounds near Big Bear a ke in Ca lifornia. ev in W al k e r wa s n ne r- u p. .. D a ve e h l p icke d up $410 0 wh en the amaha Cup came to Long Island, New ork's Roosevelt Raceway. Runner-up arry Darr claimed $3000 ... M a x witzer was the first of 203 racers to finh the Cherrv Creek Hare and Hou nd Utah. OnI y'170 finisher pins had bee n iven out in the previous 10 years. YEARS AGO... NE 3, 1981 heelying across the finish line at H ig h Po in t Raceway in Mount Mo rris, Broc Glover con tinued is sweep of the 500cc National Chamionship Mo toc ross Series, taking his ou rth win in as ma n y m o to s . Go a t reke r was secon d overall.. . Six teenear-o ld Russ Nyberg scored the Pr o lock win at the !DBA Sunshine Nation Is at Sou th Carolina's Da rlington Inter ationa l Dra gw ay. Bo O ' Broch ta sha t'red the !DBA speed record by over 5 mph on his way to the Top Fue l wi n, Adri a tico . Defen ding cham p Wa y ne clocki ng in at 190.67... In a se ries of Rainey had battled wi th Doo han ear ly in speed way m at ch es in Engla nd, the the race before tire proble ms cost him U.S. team captained flj:'i~Ii3I1.""''.:n-J_,any chance at victory ... Jeff Stanton and b y Br u ce Penh a ll ~ Damon Brad shaw exchanged the lead was decisively beats eve ra l t im e s in b oth moto s of the en by the Brits. Pen h all w as the top sco re r at th e fourth round, the only u.s. vi ctory of the fivero un d se ries . Dave Je ss u p was the hi gh-sc oring Englishman . Mount Morris, Pennsylvania, ro und of th e 250cc Na t ional Champio ns h ip Motocross Series . Stanton narrowly lost to Bradshaw in the first race but made up for it with by winning the second for 1;\ an overall victory. 5YEARSAGO... JU 5,1991 NE orm er Grand National Champion Ricky Graham WOn his firs t National since 1986 b y narrow ly beating Scoll Pa rk er at th e Sp ri ng fieId Mil e in ~"I7iTir::: Illinois . Graha m thus f l took sole possession of iii==~~~.;;J..,jU seven th on the all-time win list, a position he had shared wi th Dick Mann ... Mich a el Doohan took a virtually uncontested win at round five of th e Wor ld Cha mpionshi p Ro a d Ra ce Se r ies, Flnla nd 's three-time World Motocross Champ ion Helkkl Mikkola rides his fact ory Yamaha held in the AutodroIn the Finn ish SOOcc Grand Prix In 19n. Photo from the Cycle News Arch ives. m o Sa ntomo nica near the Italian coastal tow n of Misano F ...:-r:J..J::

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