2013 Sepang MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Of Penalty Points, Modern-Day Gladiators, Racing As Entertainment, And Ducati

Just a few hours before the bikes hit the track, all the talk should be about the prospects for the riders in the coming weekend. At Sepang, though, it was all different. Nobody was talking about who might end where, whether the Sepang is a Honda or a Yamaha track, whether Ducati will benefit from Sepang's long straights or suffer around the fast corners, about whether Scott Redding or Pol Espargaro will have the upper hand in Moto2. It was not the prospect of on-track action, but off-track drama which captured the attention.

For Thursday was D-Day (or more accurately, perhaps, RD day) for Marc Marquez at Sepang. The championship leader faced a further hearing in front of Race Direction over the incident at Aragon, where he clipped the back wheel of Dani Pedrosa, severed a rear wheel sensor, which caused Pedrosa to highside as soon as he touched the gas. Marquez was given one penalty point for the incident, and Honda stripped of Marquez' result for the constructors' championship (see full details here).

The net result? In short, next to nothing, except perhaps to add a small carbon fiber protector that should have been there in the first place. One more penalty point brings Marquez' total to three, one short of him having to start from the back of the grid. Honda lost 25 points for Marquez' result, but still received 13, for Alvaro Bautista's fourth spot at Aragon, maintaining a healthy 14-point lead in that (relatively unimportant) championship.

But that was not the point. The point, Race Director Mike Webb explained to the press afterwards, was to send out a message, to Marc Marquez, to other riders, and to the manufacturers. We shall get to the riders in a moment, but the message to the manufacturers is interesting. The legal basis for the penalty against Honda is pretty thin, the penalty being based on section of the FIM rulebook (see below). If ever there was a catch-all regulation, this is it, it basically says that Race Direction can impose any penalty for anything they deem to be 'prejudicial to the sport'.

The message Race Direction are sending is that if the manufacturers insist on building motorcycles that are so totally reliant on electronics, they had better make damn sure that if there is a problem with those electronics, nobody gets hurt. There have been electronics issues before. Nicky Hayden's Estoril race in 2011 was the prime example, Hayden stuck with a turn-by-turn electronics system that was half a lap out of sync with reality, giving him gentle power along Estoril's long front straight, then full power around the tight and twisty sections, especially the first corner chicane. Dani Pedrosa has been thrown from his bike when he tried a practice start without launch control, and both Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies suffered massive highsides when the electronics hadn't switched modes and engaged traction control. All of those, however, can mostly be attributed to human error of one form or another. Pedrosa's highside was down purely to HRC's failure to protect their sensor cable, and having a default fallback mode of full power. Doubtless there was a warning light on the dash, but warning lights are hard to see when you're hanging off the bike in the middle of the corner.

And so to the heart of the matter. Marc Marquez' single penalty point generated an awful lot of heat, but alarmingly little light. Mike Webb told the media that their intention was clear: to send a message to Marc Marquez, that he had to respect the riders he shares a track with, especially the riders immediately in front of him. But also to send a message to younger riders who were watching, making an example of Marquez to strike fear into the hearts of younger riders, and make them aware that lines had been drawn in the sand, and that if you crossed them, you would be punished, no matter how famous you are. Though that sentiment is understandable, it might be communicated more effectively if it was backed up by action against those younger riders. For even the worst rider in MotoGP is a paragon of virtue compared to some of the moves which happen in Moto2 and Moto3. Especially in the trenches: mid-pack of any Moto2 race is a bloodbath, riders doing everything and anything to gain a place, especially if it puts them in the points, which can be the difference between a contract next season and none. If Race Direction wants riders in the support classes to learn quickly that some behavior is simply not acceptable, they would do well to start punishing it.

Jorge Lorenzo also believed the single penalty point sent a message, but an entirely wrong message in his eyes. Or at least, that is probably how we should interpret his rather bizarre outburst. Tired of the arguments, Lorenzo turned to irony to make his point, saying that he had changed his mind, that Marquez should be given an extra championship point for making the show more attractive. 'This kind of riding improves the spectacle,' Lorenzo told Spanish media, 'it doesn't matter if we get injured, the important thing is the audience, that people enjoy it, and the action at Jerez was very entertaining, watching the marshals run for the lives at Silverstone was very entertaining. The overtake outside the track at Laguna Seca as well, watching Dani flying through the air at Aragon was incredibly entertaining, I think we should give people incentives for this kind of action, so that young riders will take it as an example. Making a more entertaining sport that way is a very good idea.'

Irony? Anyone watching Lorenzo's face knew it was surely ironic, but thrice did he deny it. Are you being serious? 'I'm being serious,' Lorenzo said. Totally ironic? 'It's my opinion, I'm not being ironic,' Lorenzo said again. You are not being ironic? 'Why do you keep going on about being ironic? I gave my opinion, and you should respect it.' It must have been hard to suppress the urge to listen for a cock crowing.

Later, he made it clear that he it was not his desire to see riders crashing, but what the spectators appeared to want. Asked if he had enjoyed watching Pedrosa fly through the air, Lorenzo was clear. 'It's what people want to see. This is what they show on the replays. The arguments after incidents like these are what make audiences grow in the other races.' But it was not for him. 'I wouldn't enjoy flying through the air. I hated seeing Dani flying, and if I'd had problems with my legs and couldn't walk, I'd feel bad, but it's what the people pay for, and what they ask for, like in the Roman circus, where crowds watched gladiators kill people. Obviously people don't want to see anyone die, because times have changed, but when there are crashes, when riders collide, more people buy the product. There is no concern for the health of the riders in those moments,' Lorenzo said.

It was, to all intents and purposes, a stinging attack, but on whom? On Race Direction? Perhaps. Above all, it was an attack on the audience, on what people pay to watch. Lorenzo is of course correct, crash reels are a big hit with TV audiences, as witnessed by the many TV shows specializing in the subject. Times have of course changed, as Lorenzo says: after each crash it is made very clear that the participants involved came away with relatively minor injuries. It would, after all, be bad form for a truly spectacular crash to be shown which had resulted in death. Seeing the disclaimers under those crash reels, however, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, a little too much like seeing a disclaimer under an adult movie advising that nobody was impregnated during the making of the picture. The audience for both products don't really care about the outcome, they care only for the thrill of the moment.

Is Lorenzo right? It is true that Dorna is trying to increase the spectacle, because that is what the crowds demand. While rider safety is a paramount consideration, there is one thing which Lorenzo overlooks, however: MotoGP, like all forms of professional sport, is first and foremost entertainment. It is an agreeable way to pass an hour on a Sunday afternoon. While the purity of the sporting challenge must be protected - this is, after all, unscripted entertainment, and so the outcome must remain open for as long as possible - without a paying audience, there is no MotoGP, there is no NFL, there is no Premier League, La Liga, Champions League, World Cup. It costs millions of dollars to organize and run a Grand Prix race weekend, and somebody has to pay. Currently, it is the circuit organizers and TV channels who are paying, which in the end, means ordinary viewers. And ordinary viewers want entertainment. No entertainment, no audience, no sport. It's a simple equation.

In one thing, Lorenzo is right: the health of the sport means protecting the health of the riders. If there are no actors in what sports promoter and marketing genius Barry Hearn described as 'a soap opera for men' then there is also no show. If the names keep changing as riders die or are crippled out of competition, then audiences have no fixed stars in their firmament by which to navigate. Audiences may want to see a fight, but they need to be shown a clean fight, with as few injuries as possible, bearing in mind this is a motorized sport. We don't need any more Shoya Tomizawas, Peter Lenzes, Marco Simoncellis.

The elephant in the room is the fact that the four strokes have made the situation infinitely worse. Some fifteen years ago, the precursors of the MotoGP bikes, the 500cc two strokes, produced 190hp and weighed 130kg (already up from the previous minimum of 115kg). Now, the 1000cc MotoGP machines weigh 30kg more, produce at least 60 more hp and can travel 20kph faster. The energies involved are much larger, as mass and speed increases, making the bikes more difficult to change direction, traveling further when crashed, and creating a much bigger impact when they hit other bikes, or even worse, other riders.

Marc Marquez pronounced himself unimpressed with the penalty. He would continue to ride as he always had, he said, though he would also continue to attempt to avoid any contact, as had always been his intention. Marquez' problem is his style, carrying more corner speed, which means he runs into the back of riders who brake harder and make it harder to judge. However, for the first time, Marquez' body language betrayed him. He had a more serious look on his face than he has when his behavior has been questioned previously, clearly feeling the pressure. Whether this will affect how he rides or not remains to be seen, but for the first time, he did not look like a young kid larking about at a race track. He looked like a man surprised by the tumult he had stirred up.

While Marquez' case held the attention in Sepang, the situation in Ducati spread across two continents and three countries. The rumors that Gigi Dall'Igna had been contacted by Ducati had been circulating for some time, but shortly before noon, the bomb burst. A press release stating that Dall'Igna would be leaving Aprilia appeared on the Piaggio corporate website, was pulled again, then reappeared after noon. At noon, Ducati Corse sent out a press release announcing Dall'Igna's appointment as head of Ducati Corse, reporting solely to Claudio Domenicali, Ducati CEO. At the same time, current Ducati Corse boss Bernhard Gobmeier was shuffled off to Volkswagen, there to lead the German car maker's motorsports division.

It is just part of a titanic upheaval inside of Ducati Corse that will take several months to work out. Dall'Igna's appointment gives him carte blanche to clean out the race department, something which was badly needed. There has been too little communication, and too little listening to the needs of riders over the past years. It led Casey Stoner to eventually leave Ducati, meant Valentino Rossi spent two barren years at the factory, and has been a cause of massive frustration for Andrea Dovizioso this year. Changes will come in the team - Davide Tardozzi is constantly being linked with a role alongside Paolo Ciabatti in the MotoGP team - but more especially, changes will come in Borgo Panigale. Working processes, engineering dogma, everything will change. The old guard will make way for new recruits.

It is badly needed. Ducati only hung on to Philip Morris as a sponsor by the skin of their teeth this year, after suffering through three dismal seasons without success. Philip Morris want to see progress, and Dall'Igna should be able to achieve that. He was key in the development of the WSBK championship winning RSV4 bike at Aprilia, and knows what it takes to win. He has a proven track record, is Italian (making communication much, much easier) and understands both racing and running a race department. Cal Crutchlow's surprise decision to move to Ducati is looking more and more like a clever investment, and less like a wild gamble.

It also leaves the future at Aprilia up in the air. The Piaggio press release mentioned both a difference in strategic vision between Dall'Igna and Aprilia, as well as a lack of success in World Superbikes this season. Aprilia seem keen to use their racing division as a way of making money, selling the ART to MotoGP teams and the RSV4 to WSBK teams. But with teams dropping the ART - Cardion AB has switched to Honda, and Aspar will either also switch to Honda, or take up the option of a customer bike from Ducati, along similar lines to the bikes Yamaha is supplying to NGM Forward - that strategy was changing, and Aprilia was showing no interest in expanding their MotoGP activities. The switch to EVO rules will also not help the Italian factory, the RSV4 not being competitive in stock trim. Where that leaves Aprilia's race program remains to be seen.

There will of course be racing on Sunday, and we cannot leave without a mention of that. It appears that it could be a very wet weekend, with rain expected on all three afternoons. The first fully wet weekend of the season could throw up a few surprises, though the Malaysian weather is likely to throw up a few surprises of its own. If it rains, all bets are off, and that could be very good for the championship as well.

MotoGP regulations: Authority and Competence

The Race Direction has the authority to penalise automatically riders, teams’ personnel, officials, promoters/organisers and all the persons involved in any capacity whatsoever in an event or in the Championship for :

  • Infringements of the Regulations.
  • any voluntary or involuntary action or deed accomplished by a person or a group of persons during a meeting, contrary to the current Regulations or instructions given by an official of the meeting.
  • any corrupt or fraudulent act, or any action prejudicial to the interests of the meetings or of the sport, carried out by a person or a group of persons occurring during an event.
  • having been unable to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the event or for serious breaches of the Regulations.

The Race Direction is competent to adjudicate upon a protest relating to infringements of the Regulations.

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Marc has always been the same racer for years. And now we are all shocked he hasn't learned his lesson, yet? There have been countless incidents where he has almost rammed right into the back of someone else but has for the most part, escaped with the skin of his teeth. He's been lucky, this year.
Also, Jorge. I respect the man and enjoy watching him race, but he needs to watch his mouth a bit if he's going to put down fans, like that. Never have I ever wanted to see a crash and cringe every time I do see one. Since exactly a year a go in Sepang I've been a little more sensitive to things like that.
But unfortunately I understand there are a lot more people out there that think differently than I do, and Jorge is indeed thinking of these people. But not all fans, Jorge, not all.....

I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees Jorge's comments as being directed squarely at Marc? He is not having a shot at the fans at all, he's using them - and Dorna, and even Dani - as foils for his attack on the ongoing reckless behaviour of #93.

I mean, when was the last time you heard Jorge speak kindly of Dani?

In the paragraph starting "Is Lorenzo right?", MotoGP is entertainment and has to be entertainment to exist.

In the following paragraph you state MotoGP needs to insure that riders don't die.

So anything short of death is okay and acceptable entertainment (exaggerating of course) ?

Not really sure where you land on this from the article... I can honestly say that when I first starting watching MotoGP 12 years ago I was fascinated by the crashes... but over the years I've come to look at them as an annoyance and impediment to a successful race.

Meh... crashes will happen, if they didn't it wouldn't be a risk to race and that wouldn't be entertaining, but I kind of agree with Lorenzo (in my current frame of mind after watching for years)... they shouldn't be exploited for their shock value. It is kind of cheap.

I'm saying there has to be a balance. First, we need to realize that MotoGP is nothing more than entertainment. Then, we need to find a way to provide that entertainment as safely as possible. I'd start with getting rid of the four strokes and carbon brakes.

You can have the best of both worlds by reducing the capacity a fair bit - thereby reducing the weight and power, but increasing the fuel allowance so as not to lose too much power and make it easier for other manaufacturers to take part without ridiclous electronic expense. While we're living in dreamland, throw open the engine format regs and get rid of spec tyres and you have more manufacturers, better competition safer bikes and more interesting machines. Jeremy Burgess has being calling for 600cc GP for ages and he's bang on the money. I agree about the carbon brakes though, what the point. Perhaps seamless shift should go as well.

I disagree. The 990's were a joy to watch. 2002-2006 providing very exciting racing and few crying over the two strokes demise. The bikes slid regularly, burnout celebrations were common and the winners were those who could use the abundance of power and make it work.

Marquez's riding is a sign of the times. Due to so much electronic wizardry and a frugal fuel allotment the bikes are slot racers (one line) and overtakes are mostly on the brakes into a corner.

Take away the TC altogether or force a minimal amount of it for safety only and give them all 24 liters and the show will return. It will return when the riders right wrists control all of it instead of a computer.

It would also decrease the costs of the bikes with electronics being so much of the racing budget. If Honda cries over their advantage being negated then let them eat cake.

Since 2007 TC has increased dramatically and it hasn't saved Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Randy DePuniet, Jorge Lorenzo, etc, etc, from serious injury. The excuse Honda gives, stating they need it to validate it to their brass, well I call bs on that. Honda has its own test tracks and irregular pavement, debris, water, potholes, etc, are all better to test traction control for road going bikes, not a smooth, ideal, track surface a la modern Grand Prix track. With that excuse Honda is blowing wind and being political just like my politicians do when they spin and give x reason when that isn't the truth. It's a competitive advantage. 2 races ago Valentino said, in the press conference, that most of it was for performance with only a small amount of it for safety.
It's time for it to go away.

The 4 strokes ended the nasty high side nature of the two stroke power and, not traction control. I don't remember massive injuries in 2002-2006 compared to now and could argue the opposite actually, that the last 7 years has seen more. Yes Katosan passed away but that was due to a wall and a track that wasn't safe and it had nothing to do with traction control.

All TC does is give the manus more power over the bike instead of the rider. It has killed much of the spectacle and driven bike costs up exponentially. When it leaves the sport will be more exciting, the bikes cheaper, thus making sponsors easier to attain. With more exciting racing brings more attendance and more viewers at home.

Enough is enough.

But this does nothing to address the concerns raised about the extra weight and power of the machines creating bigger crashes when they happen with the extra Kinetic energy involved since the days of the light 2 strokes. Getting rid of electronics certainly isn't going to stop crashes from happening, and increasing fuel allowances for 1000cc GP bikes will have them travelling even faster, increasing the momentum and energy involved. GP is diappearing up its own arse at the moment because they're trying to limit large capacity engine power by starving them of fuel, which is a pointless and expensive exercise for all involved when they could instead be trying to squeeze max power out of small engines with more fuel for the same net outcome of improving fuel conservation, whilst reducing overall weight and power but still having fast lap times. The best riders will still ride the bikes right to the edge of their performance envelopes and they'll still be spectacular to watch.

"First, we need to realize that MotoGP is nothing more than entertainment". D Emmett

Surely you dont buy into this completely. Although I understand it is a necessary evil (entertainment value)

This is motorcycle racing first and formost, a sport with riders competing against each other, manufacturers competing to win. Ask any of the riders if they truly care if anyone watches them ride. Would they ride for free?

The fact that it is amazing to see, and some entrepreneur found he could make some money on the side by promoting races and selling tickets, is a byproduct.

That the manufacturers sold more bikes when they won, is a byproduct.

That companies are willing to pay huge sums for fairing space, is a byproduct.

When this became a business, and entertainment HAD to be provided the purity of sport was lost.

Motor racing going back to its earliest days was always a form of entertainment--and a business. The entertainment aspect actually predates the racing as we know it today.

The first exhibitions were usually organized by newspapers and auto clubs as PR events to sell newspapers and promote the new machines. The entertainment was simply in reading about and seeing the new-fangled carriages run as there were few actual races; most of the earliest examples were distance runs and then time trials. Soon actual races were being held more often. I don't know where you got the idea that any type of auto racing was once "pure."

And yes, the riders do care that people are watching. Ask any professional athelete what it feels like to enter a stadium filled with tens of thousands of people there to cheer you on.

Also yes, they would do it for free, but they'd much rather do it and make a nice living out of it.

Spec racing can be cool, but Moto2 already exists. Leave the prototypes to MotoGP. This reminds me of an episode of Star Trek in which Spock is playing chess against the computer which he has himself programmed. The best result he should be able to obtain, he remarks to Bones, is a draw. What MotoGP has boiled down to is a match of computing power and programming prowess. Don't create a spec class, but leave the computers at home when you go racing.

Blaming the number of engine cycles seems to miss the point. Why not question the politics that, just this year, saw the bikes gain a mandatory 10kg?

I do strongly agree with your broad point about weight, and find that 10kg increase to be outright reckless in the aftermath of Marco's death. (To stretch the point to the extreme, had Simo been hit by a moped, he might well have walked away with nothing more than a bad headache.)

You're the Journo! Why not ask the manufacturers and Ezzy, "WTF are you doing?" and "How long before they are racing Goldwings?"

As for the carbon brakes being a safety issue, you have lost me. What do you have in mind?

The number of engine cycles defines the weight of the engine. A four stroke has an awful lot more parts involved, and is therefore much heavier than a two stroke engine of the same capacity.

The reason the weight limit was raised was because getting the four strokes under the weight limit was so expensive. The cheapest way of reducing engine weight is switching to two strokes. Of course, that would incur the expense of developing a new engine, but that goes beyond my current point.

Piaggio's press release complained about their "lack of success in World Superbikes this season"? They may not be winning the championship this year (in all likelihood) but they have the second and third place riders and they have the manufacturer's title pretty much in the bag.

All the drama aside, I think the incident(s) with Marquez are indicative of a problem with motorsport - both two- and four-wheeled - that has been there for some time.

If you consider racing in any form, as a sport, it would be against principles to forcibly gain advantage over an opponent. And in this regard, the 'this is motorsport' is invalid, because if you then consider types of racing I believe it is a matter of aggression. In olympic foot races, contact is prohibited, aggressive tactics such as blocking or boxing in are allowed but to physically touch someone is not. These norms change when you cross into other types of racing. To varying degrees, some contact is allowed in motorsport, taken as the result of aggressive riding. But this should happen in the course of fair conduct. Rossi's move on Gibernau is South Africa (was it 2005?) where he punted his way into first on the last corner was wrong. His off-track excursion at Laguna Seca to pass Stoner was thrilling, but wrong - as was MM's move at the same track this year. Schumacher conducted himself similarly at times when a race or championship was on the line.

Again, these are not personal attacks on the racers - I have in fact gone from almost being a Rossi hater in 2000 to cheering him on today - it is a question of what racing is. On numerous forums and social media sites I see comments advocating the principle to win at any costs. That doesn't make any sense because that is not what racing is. It goes against what any racing sport is about. It's simple, as are my decisions on the said infractions by Rossi. They race on tracks, not on the dirt beside the tracks. They RACE for position, they do not attack for position (for lack of a better description).

Whether MM has crossed any lines is debatable, and he has indeed made it much more interesting, and I am happy about that. I want the level of racing to rise. But again, this is racing, and how he is going about it is not in the spirit in which these sports were created. It doesn't cross lines yet, but it is certainly nudging them. Racers are there to win a predefined sport, not conquer it by their own means.

Money, spectators and other matters are of course huge considerations, but they cannot blur the edges of sport too much otherwise it becomes something else entirely. I'm sure there are much more intelligent people working on that balance as I speak.

With the 800's single line through corners and lack of grunt, along with a few very careful faster riders, came an exception to the usual "rubbing is racing." When I was racing I had riders try to punt me and it pissed me off and was addressed if they did it repeatedly to multiple riders. Most of the time though we had some mutual contact that just happened here and there. It made me pleased to see another rider's paint on mine or rubber on my leathers. Dani is very gentle and seems a bit ballet if you ask me. Marquez, Crutchlow, Rossi on the other hand are doing the business.
And yes one best friend I raced with was almost killed, I quit following a huge crash that left me injured, and other such things.
We need track safety, good gear and wise track marshalls/race direction of course. Motorcycle road racing isn't ever going to be tennis though thank God!

Of all the reasons I can think of to praise the 500cc two-stroke era, lack of rider injury doesn't even make the list. I seem to recall a lot of low-level earth orbiting going on as riders were flung from those evil things. Was it Schwantz who called the GP paddock the land of the walking wounded?

Of course, you lower the minimum weight and switch to two-strokes today and incorporate modern tires and electronics, they would be somewhat safer than bigger four-strokes just due to the lack of mass. But then fans would complain that they weren't the two-strokes like they were back then ...

I do agree that Dorna's legal reasoning for penalizing Honda is remarkably thin. There was no doubt whatsoever that the bike was legal and met all the rules at scrutineering. Basically, Dorna changed the rules for legality post-race and penalized Honda for not meeting those rules. It's like Dorna doesn't understand the concept of a rulebook ...

I've been scratching my head over this point, too. So, the two-strokes were slower and lighter: I get the basic physics. But they also seemed to hate their riders.

Go back and look at the clip of Doohan hobbling onto his bike looking half dead. It's painful to watch.

Nice job today! You may not win the championship this year, but what a truly stunning victory you pulled off for Yamaha marketing. Awesome work, dude!

Little advice for you buddy, just because I care, and I'm not the typical blood thirsty simpleton like you imagine the millions you managed to insult today to be. MotoGP is not entertainment, it's MARKETING. It may be entertaining marketing, but marketing it is. Check out your leathers, your shirt, your hat, the fairing on your bike, and most any vertical planer surface about the track. All that graphical crap isn't meant to entertain anyone, it's meant to compell them to buy stuff.

You should probably try to figure that out before you speak in public again.

If you're that concerned about your own safety, maybe your first move should be to a career in accounting rather than keeping the current job and trashing all us little people who make your unsafe but financially rewarding life possible.

Or not. It's merely a suggestion. Hope you get it together before Yamaha fires your sorry but deserving ass and we next see you battling Pedrosa on 'Dancing With the Stars'.

I guess Jorge's point was a little too subtle for you : )

He was not attacking the fans, he was using them as part of his attack on Marc's dangerous riding. Read it again, and note how he specifically mentions every dangerous thing Marc has done this year.

He even has kind words for Dani in his rant, which on its own is enough to fire up the the sarcasm alert radar...

I am surprised that David didn't pick up on this in his otherwise excellent article.

I think everyone caught the fact that he referenced all of Marquez's errors. The problem people have with it is that he implied that Marc is getting away with it because the fans want to see exciting racing and they care little for the riders' safety. I don't think he meant to say that, but the rant was ill-conceived in that regard because that's how many people will interpret it, and for good reason.

Jorge is paid to race but to also represent Yamaha and the sport. You don't insult your customers.

Maybe you should go back and read it again.

FWIW, I interpreted his 'outburst' (Really, Krop?) as being directed primarily at the race directors. (With significant splash damage aimed at Marc Mayhem.) My impression is that JL was likely expressing long-standing frustrations accumulated when attempting to discuss safety issues with them in the past. His main point is that MM has received highly preferential treatment by The Powers That Be. Since the Yellow Clown, and attendant ratings!, have entered into a slow decline, TPTB have been more than willing to look the other way and ignore Marc's 'enthusiastic' riding. (IMO, MM should have been yanked for the year for the gross recklessness that nearly killed Rathapark.)

...he made repeated references to dangerous racing as something like "what people want." He also said something to the effect of "it does not matter if we are injured. It only matters what's good for the show." He went so far as to make comparisions to the Roman circus.

My take is that what he meant to say is that MotoGP/Dorna thinks that's what the audience wants, but it's not clear what he actually meant because he chose sarcasm to communicate it, which requires some interpretation to decode, even if his native language was English. It could also easily be interpreted as an accusation against MotoGP/Dorna for pandering to fans who want excitement at any cost, which will clearly be insulting to many people who support the sport.

2 points :
It seems nothing short of ridiculous that traction control should be turned off at any point while the bike is running. Software that doesn't engage TC until a start has taken place and/or second gear is selected has caused at least 2-3 huge highsides that I can remember. Unless I am missing something, what use would the engineers have for a 'TC off' mode being default unless certain other conditions occur? Since this has happened with 3 factories it's not s simple anomaly, unless they simply copy each other monkey see monkey do style. Also as David mentions a default setting of no traction control should the system fail is a huge oversight.

Marc is an unusual case, an almost inhuman fearlessness, combined with a lack of depth perception. I'm not kidding, I think the accident where he hit Ratthapark in moto2, and subsequently turfed his vision for months to come, only to be miraculously and 100% recovered just before the opener at Qatar, is a cover up by Dorna and the medical staff of a more serious situation. This kid has some partial blindness in one eye and that affects depth perception/ binocular disparity. He has had way too many accidents since, and almost scenarios where he always says that he didn't see the other rider. He didn't see the flags at Silverstone. He doesn't see anyone beside him on track, ever. Mark my words, Marc is partially blind in one eye.

I can think of one good reason why a TC-off default should be to full power - if you were racing and the TC went away, you could still compete, albeit with some risk. A default setting of half power would basically mean an early shower.

The default condition should not be immediate; if a fault is detected the system should maintain the parameters in place at that point, alert the rider, and give a grace period - 20 seconds? - during which the rider could manually switch to a full power condition, or wait for the TC to default to same. I suggest a choice because if you have just come off the corner onto the main straight you don't want to wait 20 seconds, you want max power right away.

Anyway, that will never happen.

Interesting theory about #93 there. Bradley Smith is on record as saying that Marc brakes to his braking markers every lap, regardless of whether there is a rider in front of him or not.

HRC has to be real happy with Puig over losing C-points; for something that should have been handled internally. He is an arse...

1 point? Pheh.....the whole thing is just moronic, it is racing.

Jorge....just ride. Jeeezzzz already. If you try hard, you might be able to make out that #93 ahead of you. They are making these things like airplanes now, they can almost fly themselves. (until they miss a code.) Good thing you are not 20 years older, you'd be melting synapses. Calm down. Take a deep breath. The accounting suggestion made me laugh. Thanks for that.

Oh, yes. In my wilder moments I thought Dani fell off due to a loss of concentration and it was Puig that cut the wire, but that would be ridiculous and couldn't possibly be true!

As for the rest of it, well to paraphrase Apocalypse Now, "The bullshit was piled up so high you needed a high-side to get above it."

In 2010 Rossi duffed him up at Motegi, and Jorge went
crying to Lin Jarvis and Yamaha management.

In 2011 Jorge cried to the media about Simoncelli
riding too hard.

In 2012 Jorge said that Dovi shouldn't try to pass him
because Dovi's wasn't a title contender.

In 2013 he's crying about Marquez.

Anybody else seeing a pattern here?

^ Just to remind you.

The pattern I see is of a rider who smashed the hell out of his body in his first year on a MotoGP bike, then worked out how to ride faster than anyone else.

What I am not seeing is Jorge taking other riders out. In fact the only time I can recall seeing him do so was when he knocked Joan Olive off many years ago.

So yeah, this guy has both the speed to win and the ability to ensure that his fellow competitors see the chequered flag rather than the medical centre. I'd say that earns him the right to speak out when other riders need a bit of a slap.

But I see a rider came into the class with high expectations, finally won a title in 2010, then wanted everyone to stay out of his way.

Seems to me he's happy to ponce about as a "gladiator" only so long as nobody actually challenges him.

Jorge went a little off the deep end, didn't he?

And I bristle every time I hear a motorsport fan say that no one should get the slightest enjoyment out of seeing a crash. I don't agree.

The reality is that motorsport is compelling largely because it is dangerous. Most of us marvel at the calm focus, skill and bravery it takes to operate and compete in such fearsome conditions.

Very few people root for crashes to occur, but when they do happen, they can be entertaining. They can be spectacular, they're suprising and can change the course of a race or even a season. The danger is a very big part of the drama. Only the sickest individual is unphased or even enjoys a rider being seriously injured or killed. I'm sure those people exist, unfortunately, but your average motorsports fan will hold his or her breath until a rider who has crashed signals he/she is okay.

The danger--and the crashes--are a powerful reminder as to why the people who participate in this sport are so special. And that can be terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

If we ever managed to make motorsport completely safe, it would likely be the end of it, because there are millions of average Joes (and Janes) out there who, somewhere deep down, believe they could be racing in a world championship if they just had the balls.

was spot on in that it appears that a great many people will only be satisfied when MM actually drills someone with blood and broken bones resulting The inability of fans and the press to separate the talent and winning ways of MM from the blundering mindlessness of his racing and continued confusion over what is "hard racing/overtaking" versus his poor riding is the point Jorge makes quite well. The continued referencing of various past "dicey " racing moves by others is a demonstration of the lack of understanding of the difference between battling for position and running up someones ass over and over. The only irony involved is that the point is being missed by those it is aimed at...which,on second thought is not ironic at all....

Because all anyone will remember is the way he likened the fans' desire for entertaining racing with bloodlust. It was over the top and not a good way to make a point if he wants sympathy from the people who support the sport and ultimately pay his huge salary. It also sounds a little like sour grapes.

He can be outrageous. He can be controversial (in fact, maybe we need some more of that). But what he shouldn't do is bite the fans' hands in the process.

I think what he was trying to say is that MotoGP/Dorna thinks that's what the fans want, but if that was the case, it didn't really come across loud and clear.

I understand his concern about Marquez and he and the other critics have valid points, but this was not the way to make his.

Maybe he should reserve some of ire for the manufacturers, who have insisted on producing slot-car-like bikes that make passing more difficult than ever. Nah, he probably wouldn't because Yamaha signs his gigantic paycheck.

pervade the MGP paddock and any top sport.
Lorenzo found a recipe for success. IMO he's just trying to defend that because no-one does it like he can. Perhaps he cannot cross the line that MM has created. Rossi wants to because it's his kind of racing. Pedrosa probably will (now) because he's a determined little chap who responds positively to adversity.
MM has blown it all away, or is threatening to, for JL. A few penalty points will not stop him, and I'm glad. I would have taken his points away, not HRC's, but I'm not race direction (there's possibly a good reason for that!).
It is all about marketing (or at least having enough kidology to convince the major sponsors that's what it's about) but the entertainment is the key to it being marketable. Symbiosis.
Crashing is exciting and it does add to the entertainment. The accident in last weeks' WSB race 1 made my blood run cold as I saw the rider thrown about and banging into barriers like a rag doll. he was OK (in motorcycle racing terms). That was plain scary. It crossed the line. Both Guinters and Laverty dropping it on the last lap in race 2 was exciting (and frustrating!).
Even the fuel limits may be a good thing (never thought I would say that) if they keep squeezing. Perhaps someone will get brave and bring in a smaller engine that runs at full throttle for longer each lap and is so agile it can even ride around an RCV or M1 on their preferred trajectories. Well, I can dream.
Fine lines.

it was just blokes on bikes. But that was about 100 years ago and a lot has changed since then. Amateurs probably don't care who watches, nor do they expect to be paid. But we are not talking about the original sport nor dealing with amateurs. Almost everybody involved is a professional at this level and their description of their occupation will confirm that.
Professionalism brings a number of less-desirable factors, but it also brings that lifeblood to prototype racing......money.
You just need to park an RCV next to a Brough Superior to see the degree of change. It's a metaphor for everything else too.
Some people pine for the 'good old days'. Give me an RCV every time.

Totally agree. But the original blokes on bikes (or in cars) were probably there to promote their respective machine.Some of the earliest were the same guys who built the machines. Motor racing began as a form of PR and marketing. And so it remains. Just bigger.

Racing has always existed to sell products and provide entertainment. And it always been a business.

I have got an impression that Jorge Lorenzo is being threatened by the rise of young Marc Marquez. That's why he is talking like that! He looks like a bad looser to me.

Marc was growing up watching Valentino Rossi and he resembles very much in the way of fighting with other riders on the great man himself. If Rossi wasn't punished for Jerez and Laguna incidents for example why should Marc be? Wasn't that spectacular? Yes! Yes, it was! I would like to watch more of that, please! And yet, Jorge is telling us that those moves are wrong! I don't agree with him! I don't like dull racing, enough of that. If it wan't for Marc this season would be boring. Personaly, I don't like Jorge's personality, I really like his style of riding, but that's my thing.

I have watched Senna documentary again these days because Marc reminds me of him. I think that Marc should tell Jorge the same thing Ayrton Senna told Jackie Stewart.

Marc, thank you for a great racing!!!

You can see the whole of Lorenzo's outburst like a way to get into Marquez's head, just psychological warfare, not a real questionning of anything. Down 39 points, lagging behind on the track, he'd do anything to unsettle Marquez a bit.

(Putting him on the back of the grid for one race will do too).

Add this to his natural lack of humor, and the bad english, you get an awfuly awkward moment. Lorenzo is really hard to like !

But David is right, at one point Marquez had a very different expression on his face. First time I see him bothered by something. Something tells me when he wins on Sunday, he'll be smiling again !

And thank you also RidgeRunner - I was starting to wonder whether the Motomatters audience were dumbing down... it is as clear as daylight to me that Jorge was targeting Marc with his comments, not the fans, or Dorna. But then I am an Australian and we have the best sarcasm radars on the planet :)

I'm sure Marc will have received Jorge's message loud and clear, I'm equally sure that it won't have any effect on how he goes about his business on the racetrack. And despite my reservations about the minimal margins of safety that Marc operates with, I sort of hope at the same time that he doesn't stop doing what he does... although if he ends up really hurting someone I will have great regret for my thoughts.

I also think Dani will win this race. As someone suggested above, he can and does rise to the occasion when he's been blind-sided.

Stop patting yourself on the back for being clever. No one missed the sarcasm. And everyone understands he was referencing all of Marquez's sins.

What you seem to have missed or just simply ignored is the clear barbs at the powers that be for not punishing Marquez meaningfully because the fans want to see more exciting racing. It was clumsy, ill-conceived and can certainly be interpreted as that Jorge thinks the fans have little regard for the riders's safety. I don't think that's what he meant to say, but one could easily come to that conclusion.

He even referenced ancient Rome and the gladiators, for Christ's sake. And you missed that?

I think that Lorenzo's statement made him twitch because Lorenzo was next to him. He wasn't expecting that :) If that wasn't said on the press conference...even so I don't think that Marquez will suffer because of this. I only see this as Lorenzo's weakness. The rookie is beating him all the season. Mind games are his last option.

Lorenzo is a hypocrite!!! When he attacked with hard pass Dani during for example first lap of Mugello race he said he just had to do it! Nobody crashed, nobody fell, everything OK, or when he tried hard pass against Marquez on Silverstone, he said he had to do it (agian), nobody crashed, nobody fell, everything OK. When Marquez do the same, the Earth must stop spinning because that was dangerous! Come on!

He feels threatened because some young guy with same nationality is beating him all the season. I think that hurts him the most!

I don't agree with the opinion that sport is entertainment.
It seems to me that sport is competition within a framework of rules based on fair play. Now sport can be entertaining but if it is not it is still sport. Treating sport as just entertainment has caused all sorts of problems in motorsports but it continues because of the money it brings into the participants in the sport. Lorenzo laments the thrill seekers who are entertained by violence and the horriffic. Unfortunately, there are far more of these type of fans setting watching TV or at the track that true fans of the sport who appreciate the competition and technical aspects involved. So if you want to do away with the "entertainment" seekers you also do away with the financial rewards to the sport. It's a catch22 situation.

I don't think I made my point clearly enough. Sport is not entertainment per se, but at the moment money is involved, that is, when it is professional sport, it becomes an entertainment product. Professional sport is by definition an entertainment product, because somebody has to pay for it. The usual way by which professional sport is funded is by selling to an audience, either a crowd attending the event, or TV broadcast fees. Sponsorship is the other way of doing it, but those sponsors are also seeking an audience.

Having said that, there is still room for sporting purity to be involved. The sport cannot be contrived, for the interest in sport is that the outcome of any particular competition is not known. It is unscripted. This element is what provides the interest for an audience, and so retaining that is important. That is what most people regard as 'the purity of the sport'. 

Thank you, David. Well said.

Motorsports have never been about pure competion. The events were originally organized as spectacles to promote the machines and the publications that covered the events. It has always been about entertainment. The idea that racing began with a bunch of enthusiasts who sought pure competition is a romantic myth. What we know as grassroots racing only came to be after professional racing had already blossomed.

The first Grand Prix races were nationalistic competitions between nascent auto engineers and auto industrialists who were eager to test their equipment against other machines. The mass production market for automobiles would not arrive for another 15-20 years, and there was virtually no market for "performance" cars at the time. After the advent of mass produced vehicles, many companies have gone bankrupt at the race track because they treated racing as an expensive hobby not a for-profit business activity.

Racing must always have a place for racing companies who race as a way of life. Without those people, there is no sport.

The first Grand Prix races were not the first auto races. The first auto competitions were mainly reliability trials to promote the capabilities of the machines to the public. They were organized by auto clubs and newspapers and magazines who wanted to promote their publications. Shortly after, actual races were held. The first Grand Prix races didn't happen until over a decade later.

Races often featured prototypes of the manufactuers' road-going models for the next year. Purpose-built race machines didn't really appear until much later. So, your're right there, there were no performance cars. I think you need to remember that there was no frame of reference for what we would call performance cars today. The machines were so new, any car was a performance car. This does not change the fact that organized racing's primary goal was to promote the machines by way of spectacle to the public. There is really no disputing that.

Did the participants want to win? Hell yes. That gave them an advantage against the other budding manufacturers. And I'm sure it was all sorts of fun. Not sure why some people insist that racing and business should be mutually exclusive.

The fact that Grand Prix racing added a nationalistic bent, doesn't change any of this. Manufacturers from each country were still doing it to promote their products and automobiles as a whole. The fact that there wasn't a mainstream automotive market yet only supports the fact that racing was a spectacular form of marketing. All industries, especially those with new, innovative products, must engage in attention-getting promotion to showcase the abilities of their products. Racing was the perfect way to promote motorized vehicles when most people were still getting around by (real) horse power and human power.

Of course there were enthusiasts created along the way, and thank God for that. And yes, there have been individuals and companies who raced to financial ruin. Again, that has absolutely no bearing on the fact that a marketing need gave birth to motor racing and it still operates on marketing money today because it is entertainment. It could not have spontaneously started on its own because, at the beginning, almost no one even knew what a car or motorcycle was except the pioneers who built and developed them. It simply would have been impossible for grassroots racing to come first. Almost no one had one.

Anyway, I've beaten this horse to the afterlife. You don't have to take my word for it, just look it up.

They were organized and promoted by auto clubs b/c that's what you have to do. If you want to race cars through the center of small towns at 70mph, you need money to bribe local governments along the route. Even with the money, government ended up banning GP racing, and that's why FIA engine formulas were created to gain the endorsement of national regulators.

The participants were fluffing their own egos and building a brand unto themselves that could be applied to any engineering or manufacturing endeavor, hence they put their name on all of the vehicles and they drove their own cars for many years. Even in the 1950s and 1960s, many of the factory teams were earning their money by building race cars, some of which were required to be street legal, not production vehicles.

Projecting the business models and corporate ambitions of the present onto the people of the past is folly. Racing was almost entirely for the amusement of the spectators and the egotism of the participants. Corporate branding and indirect sales didn't become a business model until TV. Some journalists and businessmen might argue that the era of corporate marketing has already passed us by, and international racing is now about government marketing, B2B networking, and corporate/government relations.

"They were organized and promoted by auto clubs b/c that's what you have to do. If you want to race cars through the center of small towns at 70mph, you need money to bribe local governments along the route." phoenix1

While I can't say for sure, this sounds like speculation on your part. I'm sure this happened later after racing was more established, but I doubt at the very beginning. And early cars in the late 19th and very early 20th centuries couldn't even dream of 70mph. The average speed of the cars in the first auto races in 1894 was a little over 10 mph.

"The participants were fluffing their own egos and building a brand unto themselves that could be applied to any engineering or manufacturing endeavor, hence they put their name on all of the vehicles and they drove their own cars for many years. Even in the 1950s and 1960s, many of the factory teams were earning their money by building race cars, some of which were required to be street legal, not production vehicles." -phoenix1

Yes. The early participants in racing were the first individual innovators and manufacturers in the automobile/motor vehicle industry. What you neglect to mention is that most of them were trying to test their machines against their competition and promote them to the public. You even go so far as to mention "building a personal brand,' which is indeed marketing, and a very popular marketing practice today (and which also contradicts your next paragraph). Some went on to seek fame and make themselves personal brands, most had hopes of selling vehicles to the public.

Citing developments from the 1950s and '60s totally misses the point. The "racing industry" really didn't exist until the automotive industry was established. And with the rare exception of manufacturers like Ferrari, which sells road cars to fund its racing, it was quite the other way around.

"Projecting the business models and corporate ambitions of the present onto the people of the past is folly. Racing was almost entirely for the amusement of the spectators and the egotism of the participants. Corporate branding and indirect sales didn't become a business model until TV." -phoenix1

Well, you can think it's folly if you like. Unfortunately, your statement is hopelessly wrong. The 19th Century is the cradle of the modern industrial world, and, surprise, modern marketing--in everything from breakfast cereal to soft drinks, to cosmetics, to automobiles and beyond. Maybe you'll recognize some of the tactics used at the first American automobile race in 1895, as recounted by Frank Duryea, an automotive pioneer who, with his brother, founded one of the first American automobile companies and raced in this event:

"Of nearly a hundred entries, only six cars lined up for the start. Of these six, two were electric vehicles entered by Morris and Salom of Philadelphia, and Sturgis of Chicago. Of the four gasoline-engined vehicles, H. Mueller & Go. of Decatur, Illinois, R. H. Macy & Co. of New York, and The De la Vergne Refrigerating Machine Co. of New York, each came to the start with an imported German Benz. The Duryea Motor Wagon Company's entry was the only American-made gasoline car to start."


All you have to do is replace R.H. Macy & Co., H. Mueller & Co., and the De la Vergne Refrigerating Machine Co. with Repsol, Marlboro and, Monster Energy, and Duryea Motor Wagon Company and Benz with Yamaha and Honda, and I think you'll get the point.

You can also think of the newspapers and magazines of the time as Eurosport, Fox Sports 1 or the BBC.

Notice the reprint of a PR article from a newspaper of the time with the headline "No Use For Horses."

In 1888, a woman named Bertha Ringer, whose husband was a brilliant engineer but had no clue how to market his invention, took one of the first motorized cars on a long road trip as a publicity stunt, without her husband's knowledge, gaining the first widespread recognition of the automobile. Oh, her married name was Bertha Ringer Benz. Her husband was Karl, the inventor of the automobile.


You're engaging in a kind of modern arrogance, which we all have at times, that comes from the misguided belief--or hope--that people who came before us were somehow less sophisticated or more pure of intent, which is mostly nonsense. These people did the hard yards of the industrial revolution; most everything we have today is built on their efforts, including promotion and marketing. Their methods might have been crude, but that's because they came first; they were the pioneers. I can assure you that their goals were very similar to ours. After all, the 19th Century gave us P.T. Barnum, Kelloggs, Coca Cola, and Standard Oil, to name just a few.

Or you simply want to indulge your romantic notion that racing--and perhaps all sport--was born of enthusiasm and a pure thirst for competition.

Well, you'd be sort of on the mark there. Because that's what business is, too.

I'm not intending to be harsh but my point has always been that, as good as it sounds, you can't untangle motorsport from business and entertainment very easily. They were, almost literally, made for each other.

And for the sake of full disclosure, I've worked in marketing and advertising for over 15 years and have had some involvement in amateur and professional motorsports sponsorship and marketing.

By the time the Model T went into production, the cars were capable of over 100mph. The rules only specified maximum weight, which was supposed to control the size of the engines. Displacement increased rapidly, and the cars were made more flimsy to accommodate more engine weight (displacement). By the turn of the century, racing was already a lethal endeavor for racers and spectators. The first closed circuit races were held during this era, when local and national governments began to refuse access to transcontinental roadways. It took an extraordinary amount of money and political connections to get the races to go off, and international autoclubs (like the FIA) were the vessel for these negotiations.

By and large, organized races had nothing to do with selling cars or promoting car companies. It was a post-industrial imperialistic contest for nobles and nascent auto industrialists who wanted to bask in the glow of nationalism, and cement themselves amongst the social elites. Even the royal families were involved at times. The Italian royal family, for instance, was rumored to have trained the royal chauffeurs to drive grand prix cars to improve Italy's standing in the racing.

The modern arrogance in this discussion is coming from the party who insists that turn-of-the-century Europe was a consumer-driven economy (it wasn't), and that the ambitions of an imperial continent, building towards WWI, are best represented by American corporations like Coca Cola, Kelloggs and Standard Oil. You are merely projecting your profession onto history where it doesn't belong.

Oh, boy. Let's go back to the crux of the argument because you seem to want to cherry-pick facts without any context, none of which refute anything I've written, or you just reply with unsupported conjecture.

Here's what you disagreed with originally:

"Motorsports have never been about pure competition. The events were originally organized as spectacles to promote the machines and the publications that covered the events. It has always been about entertainment. The idea that racing began with a bunch of enthusiasts who sought pure competition is a romantic myth." -Trip13

So, what I'm saying is that from its earliest origins, motorsport has been entwined with entertainment, marketing/promotion, and business.

You say: "By and large, organized races had nothing to do with selling cars or promoting car companies. It was a post-industrial imperialistic contest for nobles and nascent auto industrialists who wanted to bask in the glow of nationalism, and cement themselves amongst the social elites." -phoenix1

Sorry, you've got your cause and effect mixed up. My statement is supported by documented history, for example:

"From the beginning sponsorship has existed in auto racing. The first auto race was held in 1894 in France, “Voitures sans chevarut” meaning horseless carriage (Boddy, 1977). This first auto race was organized by Pierre Giffard Cowner of a Paris news magazine called Le Petit Journal. He planned the race to illustrate reliability, speed, and the safety of cars as being far superior to the horse carriage. In other words, from the first auto race in history quality assurance of cars began (Boddy, 1977; Rendall, 1991)."

In the U.S., auto racing began due to a similar reason: quality assurance. In the 1900s, many automakers produced cars in Indianapolis, like Detroit does today. According to Davison and Shaffer (2006), the biggest challenge of automakers was testing their vehicles. The first founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), Carl Fisher, proposed a track and random races not only to test cars but also to sell cars...In summary, the major motivation to participate in auto racing for automakers and automotive product makers in the late 19th century and early 20th century was to show reliability, quality and superior performance of their products.

-The Commencement of Modern Sport Sponsorship in the 1850s – 1950s; Sanghak Lee, Indiana University, Lawrence W. Fielding, PhD (advisor), Indiana University

"The first organized contest was on April 28, 1887, by the chief editor of Paris publication Le Vélocipède, Monsieur Fossier. It ran 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Neuilly Bridge to the Bois de Boulogne. It was won by Georges Bouton of the De Dion-Bouton Company, in a car he had constructed with Albert, the Comte de Dion, but as he was the only competitor to show up it is rather difficult to call it a race."

"On July 23, 1894, the Parisian magazine Le Petit Journal organized what is considered to be the world's first motoring competition from Paris to Rouen. Sporting events were a tried and tested form of publicity stunt and circulation booster."


"The following year, Frank [Duryea, of America's first auto maker] developed a second car with a more powerful two-cylinder engine. It was this car that he drove in America's first automobile race on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1895. The race was sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald and ran a 54-mile course from down-town Chicago to Evanston, Il and back."


Now, since you seem to believe that auto racing started with Grand Prix racing, which actually didn't begin until 12 years after the first recognized automotive contest--and you also seem to think it was only about rich dudes in goggles and scarves, ego and nationalistic fervor-- maybe you should reconsider your view:

"This first Grand Prix was organized by the Automobile Club of France (ACF) at the urging of French automakers. The city fathers of Le Mans and local hotels provided the necessary funding and persuaded the ACF to hold the race near the city."

"Previously, the only series that could be called international was the Gordon Bennett, established by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., owner of the New York Herald. (I touched on the Gordon Bennett in my July history column). Entrants came from a number of European countries that had national teams. Each country could enter only three cars and they had to be made in that country."


"James Gordon Bennett arrived in Paris in 1887 and had established a Continental edition of his father's New York daily. This being the same Bennett that sent Stanley in search of Livingstone had an eye for publicity. In July 1899 he established a series of races bearing his name. The six international motor races held between 1900 and 1905 came to be known as the Gordon Bennett Cup Race but within the pages of the New York Herald and its Paris offshoot it was always referred to as the Coupe International. Gordon Bennett himself never drove a motor car and in fact never witnessed any of his races."


"The 1906 Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France, commonly known as the 1906 French Grand Prix, was organized at the prompting of the French automobile industry as an alternative to the Gordon Bennett races, which limited each competing country’s number of entries regardless of the size of its industry."


"France had the largest automobile industry in Europe at the time, and in an attempt to better reflect this the Grand Prix had no limit to the number of entries by any particular country."


"...Another example is two men by the names of Daimler and Benz. Before World War I they developed high quality cars and participated in races to promote their cars (Rendall, 1991). Rendall also stated that tire, car lamp, and fuel companies placed lots of signage in the Lyons circuit during the 1924 French Grand Prix. In addition, Tennant (2004) showed the picture of an auto race in 1934, whose signage included Dunlop, BP Ethyl, Castrol, Esso, and Shell."

-The Commencement of Modern Sport Sponsorship in the 1850s – 1950s; Sanghak Lee, Indiana University, Lawrence W. Fielding, PhD (advisor), Indiana University

"The modern arrogance in this discussion is coming from the party who insists that turn-of-the-century Europe was a consumer-driven economy (it wasn't), and that the ambitions of an imperial continent, building towards WWI, are best represented by American corporations like Coca Cola, Kelloggs and Standard Oil." -phoenix1

This, again, is just simply wrong. And laughably so. Not to mention it reeks of U.S.-bashing. By the late 19th Century consumerism was taking off in all industrialized nations. But the U.S. was actually behind in the early part of the century. How do you explain that the automobile itself and some of its most prominent brands originated in Europe? France had one of the biggest auto industries, if not the biggest, in the world at the time. I'm not going to get into another argument about historical economics; you're simply misinformed.

"We have seen that a consumer revolution occurred in the eighteenth century, and that it carried the seeds of geographical expansion, particularly in the impact on the United States. Development then slowed for a bit, as West­ern Europe assimilated the first stages of the industrial revolution and the United States caught up with European consumerist standards.

A second stage of consumerism subsequently burst forth from about 1850 onward. The theme was simple but profound: in virtually every conceivable way, consumerism accelerated and intensified on both sides of the Atlantic."

-The Explosion of Consumerism in Western Europe and the United States, Tufts University


"By the time the Model T went into production, the cars were capable of over 100mph. The rules only specified maximum weight, which was supposed to control the size of the engines." -phoenix1

This is actually true. However, it was 14 years after the earliest competitions. Cars near the 70mph mark didn't appear until about six or seven years after the earliest competitions. The Renault crash, which caused outrage about racing on public roads, didn't happen until 1903, nine years on. The point being, bribing town officials in order to allow speeding cars through towns was mostly likely not required in the earliest years, although I can't claim to know this for sure.

"You are merely projecting your profession onto history where it doesn't belong." -phoenix1

Actually, my profession doesn't need me to do that at all. It's a crucial part of all industry, global economics and, much to your chagrin, the very existence and growth of your beloved motorsport. I can assure you that without the mutually-beneficial relationship between sport/entertainment and marketing/business, we wouldn't be arguing on this website right now. Because there would be no MotoGP without businesses who want to sell things and fans who want to be entertained to fund the huge cost of participation.

(And let me apologize to any third party who's actually bothered to wade through this giant wall of text and links or follow this rather inconsequential argument.)

Competition begins with enthusiasts. Professional competition begins, to be blunt, with those who would exploit enthusiasts.

Competitive events are socially accepted releases for the various components of our natural instinct to survive. Which, by necessity in a civilized society, must be retrained from the brutish survival instinct required by a state of nature.

I submit that pure competition predates professional entertainment. The flipside is that professional entertainment supersedes competition.

Sport is competition. It is the attempt to figure out how best to do something. Non-participants might show interest in the process, but that's not the goal.

Professional sport is entertainment. It is an attempt to make money by figuring out how best to do something. The goal is to get non-participants to show interest. There are two levels of non-participant interest: enthusiasts are interested in every facet of the process; spectators are interested in "the show." The first is preferable, the second is normal, both are necessary.

Check out the definition of "professional" in the dictionary. It's all about getting paid.

If sport could not be marketed as entertainment MotoGP would not exist.

I've lost a lot of respect for Lorenzo with this idiotic rant. No matter who it's directed at, he insulted fans of the sport across the world by assuming that we're all so simple as to watch for the crashes. If that's what I wanted to see Nascar is much more bang for the buck in that department.

DP has always been a stupid racer. Bold statement true. So let's dissect the last race to validate that statement. JL jumps out to a lead at the beginning of the race. MM is chasing him down slowly with DP close on his heels. Instead of letting MM do the work DP has this vision that he needs to put his bike in front of MM in the first third of the race (stupid). Once in front of MM he finds the only way to stay there is to block MM (again stupid). You should never pass someone in the first part of the race unless you know for sure that you can pull away from them once passed. DP is full aware of MM's competitive spirit if he has been paying attention at all this year forgetting last year completely. DP should have known that MM had his sights set on JL in number one position but he didn't so therefore he is stupid to the n'th degree. Now in front of MM our stupid racer realizes the only way to stay there is to adopt a blocking strategy. Once more very stupid cause he has been passed by MM several times this year while leading him. So instead of saving his tires and allowing MM to reel in JL and going for a win in the last 2 laps our stupid racer throws it all away in the first part of the race with poor decisions. Dumb dumb dumb stupid racer - fast on a bike but a totally stupid racer. Maybe he is getting stupid advice from none other than Puig. We can only hope. If we can realize that he is a stupid racer then we can know why he never won a championship on one of the world's best bikes.

Nice article, David.

I can empathize with Lorenzo, and his refusal to turn off the smarmy sarcasm. The riders probably feel like they are under attack from all directions, and Lorenzo has taken it upon himself to fill Stoner's role as the media troll. The MSMA have forced the riders to filter their talents through the fuel-efficiency software. The riders' free time is dominated by team sponsor obligations and corporate photo ops. The poor technical regulations have caused factory participation to decline, thus, Dorna and its backers have decided to meddle in the craft of riding by modifying the formula to keep the small number of machines closer to one another during the races. Since the racing is quite poor, the fans can only be bothered to watch when the riders fly over the high side. I'm sure the subject is particularly sensitive for Lorenzo, since his introduction to global crash highlight reels happened when he flew over the highside in 2008 at Shanghai as a rookie.

Regarding the entertainment vs. sports debate, I think sport is inherently entertaining, but a sport cannot exist without competition. When competition is not present, everything falls apart. MotoGP lacks factory involvement, and the rules do not elicit more competitors or competition. As you point out in your article, the current rules are also quite dangerous (relative to other formulas) because the bikes are extremely powerful and quite heavy.

If I had a say, the FIM and Dorna would go straight to ACO (LMP sanctioning body) to ask them how their new fuel-flow limiting technology works. Power would be cut to ~200hp and minimum weight would go back to 130kg. Max capacity would remain 1000cc and the fuel tanks could stay at 20L. I've said it a dozen times, but I have to say it periodically to keep myself from bailing on the dismal state of the sport at present.