MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.
The question is: are CRT bikes too slow? It depends on your viewpoint. If you are Jorge Lorenzo, under pressure from Dani Pedrosa as you come upon a backmarker at a crucial corner, then, yes, they probably are too slow. But if you are able to stand back and look at CRT bikes from a historical perspective then, no, they are not too slow.
The fact is that during six decades of Grand Prix racing the sport has never been rich enough to afford a grid full of machines of similar performance. Well, that did happen once, in those heady few years between 2002 and 2006 when the new MotoGP class was bankrolled by the tobacco industry – anxious to spend, spend, spend before the advertising ban kicked in – and a motorcycle industry that hadn’t yet worked out that it couldn’t afford four-stroke GP bikes and hadn’t yet been be knocked flat by the global economic crisis. Once the factory accountants had taken a good look at the books, most of them made a swift exit: Kawasaki, Aprilia, KTM, Suzuki and others.
At all other times, from the birth of GP racing in 1949 until now, grids have consisted of a dramatically contrasting mix of cutting-edge factory machines at the front and budget-priced bitzas at the back. That’s just the way it is.
Qualifying times reveal all. If we take a random selection of grid times from history – comparing pole position to 15th fastest – you will see that CRT bikes aren’t very slow at all.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.