LUNATICS AND THE ASYLUM
The dark clouds that engulfed World Superbikes at Monza were lifted, at least partially, by some fantastic racing at Donington Park. Not just some of the best racing ever seen in WSBK but last-corner shenanigans were reminiscent of Rossi nerfing off Gibernau when MotoGP was exciting.
This time it was even better! No sooner had BMW finished celebrating their first WSB win, actually a one-two, than the victorious team-mates completely blew a potential double by ending up in the dirt. BMW say they have no team orders, they must be wishing they had!
But the fiasco that was Monza will not easily go away. It is very easy to point the finger at Pirellli who, despite their protestations, were at best incompetent and, worse, guilty of abrogating their responsibility to riders by supplying tyres which fell apart within a lap and then their unwillingness to admit it in not withdrawing them.
Of course, it is very easy to be critical after the event and the appalling weather made balancing the needs of rider safety and the demands of television and paying spectators tricky. But it could hardly be said that the organisers covered themselves in glory. Eventually half a race was run, won by Tom Sykes - just about the only rider who actually wanted to race!
The riders didn't like the situation one little bit, especially after being ticked off by WSBK race direction for putting up their hands to indicate the race should be stopped. Indeed, they have apparently been told that should they do this in future they will have their wrists slapped.
And some of the teams threatened to take their ball home, accusing the organisers of failing to consult them when deciding which races to run - or not.
There is no organisation like IRTA in World Superbikes. IRTA, the International Racing Teams Association, came into being when a riders breakaway was being threatened for the World Championships in the early 90s. It represents the teams and the riders to the organisers of MotoGP.
WSBK are, no doubt, nervous about recognising anything which resembles a trade union but it would surely be sensible to have a more organised dialogue with the performers than that which currently exists. Franco Uncini performs this role for IRTA. Surely, someone like Troy Corser could act as riders representative as he will be attending all WSBK rounds in his ambassadorial role for BMW.
The old adage about not allowing the lunatics to run the asylum sounds like common sense - providing you can identify the lunatics! But poor communication is usually the problem.
ROSSI LIKES WSBK
Although the crowd at Donington was pitifully thin, there was one rather famous spectator who enjoyed the spectacle. Valentino Rossi was not braving the chill Derbyshire winds- well they came from Derbyshire - but from the comfort of his armchair in somewhere land he tweeted his admiration for the racing adding that it was somewhat superior to boring MotoGP, or words to that effect.
One has to presume that investment company Bridgepoint, having owned both MotoGP and WSB for six months, are weighing up the relative values of both series. They are facing an interesting dilemma. MotoGP is several times bigger and every effort is being made to dress it up for sale so the idea that it has become boring, especially when voiced by it's number one star, is not welcome.
Of course, Rossi and Ducati, once the mealticket to riches for the owners, are quickly becoming something of a busted flush. Try as they might, the other so-called stars have the collective charisma of sheep. And the series has been deserted by two of the major Japanese manufacturers, Suzuki and Kawasaki, while a battle over the formula goes on with the others.
At the same time, manufacturers like BMW, Aprillia, Honda, Kawasaki and, to a lesser degree others are trying to win WSB because it is important to the fading sales of sports bikes. Although both series have a common owner, it has been said that they will be run independently. For how long I wonder?
MICK RETIRES SHOCK
Veteran road racer, TTRA President and general man about town Mick Chatterton says he may retire after some fifty years in the saddle. Observe the word "may." We have heard it before and one has to question the motives of a man threatening retirement on the one hand while claiming never to have felt better on the other.
One factor is, of course, the demise of the 125cc class which Mick regards as proper racing as opposed to glorified road bikes for which he has little time. Little time either for UK track racing as the septuagenarian confines himself to bombing round Irish back roads!