Cycle News

Cycle News 2020 Issue 46 November 17

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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P120 CN III IN THE PADDOCK BY MICHAEL SCOTT I f Yamaha was to write a navel- gazing book about their 2020 season, that would be the title. And the subhead: "And without gaining anything either." The first race in Valencia brought the latest blows in a year of the perfect storm for the MotoGP stalwarts. You have to wonder what they have done to deserve it. It's flippant but at least superfi- cially true to say that each racing factory has its own distinct char- acter: Honda, the austere face of arrogant pride; Ducati, noisy and temperamental Italian drama- tists; KTM, humorless, earnest and scarily efficient; Suzuki, the blushing faux-virgins with a secret wicked streak, Aprilia … well, never mind. Yamaha has always played the role of the fundamentally decent bloke: competitive and sporting for sure, but with an open and honest face. You'd instinctively trust him. It was therefore completely— radically—out of character that they should become the latest victims of the MotoGP police, accused and convicted for, of all things, cheating. They had fallen badly foul of the strict rules limiting not only numbers of engines but also freezing development and seal- ing them throughout the season. The result was the loss of both Constructor and Team champion- ship points. Protestations of innocence were not that well received by their rivals, but it was clear that there had not been any real malevolence involved. Just some sneakiness. Possibly inadvertent. That's how it stands, in spite of inevitable rumors and conspiracy theories that there was some more sinister intent. Innocent until proven guilty. But punished anyway. To understand how it went down, you need to recall Mo- toGP's frozen engine develop- ment policy. Each factory team is allowed five engines per rider (it had been seven, before Covid cut the number of races back from 20 to 14), and they are sealed from the time of homolo- HOW TO CHEAT WITHOUT EVEN TRYING

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