As the holiday season approaches, it's time for me to take a break. MotoMatters.com will be shutting down for between Christmas and New Year, and returning again in 2020. But before I do take a much-needed break, I have a few things to say (some of which will explain why the break is much needed...).
First and foremost, thank you to everyone who reads MotoMatters.com. Even after 14 years, it is still remarkable to me that so many people read and enjoy the website. It is still hard for me to think of it as anything more than me posting my ramblings from my spare room.
A special thank you to everyone who has supported MotoMatters.com financially, those who have donated money and especially the MotoMatters.com subscribers. Site Supporters are the lifeblood of the website, and numbers have almost doubled this year, putting us on a much more sound financial footing. That has allowed me to attract more talent, and pay them properly to write for the website. The aim is very much to expand on this for 2020 and beyond. There are some people I hope to persuade for next year.
On that note, a very special note of thanks to the writers who have contributed to the website. To the utterly brilliant Zara Daniela, whose keenly-observed practice and race reports serve both as an excellent record of what happened, as well as a source of great wit and entertainment. To Jared Earle, for his summaries of WorldSBK practice and races, which help me keep close track of what is going on in WorldSBK when I can't watch the races.
To Steve English, for the fascinating and outstanding features he has provided through the year. To Cormac Ryan Meenan, for providing stunning photographs for the season. To Tom Morsellino, for his beautifully observed technical photographs, and to Peter Bom for his incisive explanations of those photos (and for helping me seem smarter than I am throughout the year). And to a host of others who have helped me in all sorts of ways throughout the season, or been interviewed, or helped me set up interviews, or tipped me off about something I didn't know.
Failings and shortcomings
Though the contributions from others have been superb, I can't shake the feeling that I have not done as well as I should have this year. I think I got caught off guard at Qatar, by the furore surrounding Ducati's so-called tire cooler, the aerodynamic wing under the swingarm. I chose to focus on that, rather than on writing a report of the race, and never really got caught up again. After that, I found it hard to choose between writing more of a race report, and exploring and analyzing the events of the race, and trying to explain why things happened.
That caused me to lose my way, a little, to lose my sense of direction. Only towards the end of the year did I start to find my feet again, and get back to what I believe is the core objective of MotoMatters.com: trying to understand and explain why motorcycle racing is where it is, how and why it is changing, and where it is heading in the future.
So for most of 2019, I felt adrift, loose from my moorings. I spent too much time prevaricating about what I should be writing about, rather than just writing about the things that mattered. Throughout my time running the site, I have always felt that I have failed my readers: I learn far more over the course of a weekend than I have time to physically sit down and write about, and so each summary feels like I have left out far too much, and only written about a handful of the things which matter. That, I suppose, is the essences of editing a publication: there is not enough time to relate everything, so you have to make decisions about what is important, and make sure you cover that as thoroughly and accurately as possible.
The good thing about failure is that it gives you an opportunity to learn. I leave 2019 determined to do a much better job next year, based on what I learned over the course of the season. What that boils down to is having more of a plan, focusing on the crucial events of each weekend, and trying to summarize what I missed in the days following a race. For example, I didn't give Moto2 half the coverage it deserved this year. I hope to do better in 2020.
One reason for focusing more on Moto2 next year is simply because it will matter more. 2020 promises to be a crucial year, not least because of just how frenzied the round of contracts is going to be for 2021. Some riders will swap factories, some will stay put, some will retire, or be forced out, and fresh blood will flood into MotoGP. Talks will start between Dorna, IRTA, and the teams for the next five-year contract from 2022 onward, and a new set of rules will be forged for the same period.
Those new rules will be written while the MSMA, the association of manufacturers in MotoGP, is functionally moribund, the splits between rival manufacturers leaving them to abandon the organization. And so without unified opposition, Dorna will get to dictate the direction of MotoGP. Judging by how close the racing has been in recent years, that is no bad thing.
Then there's the racing itself. So many questions to be answered: Can Marc Márquez repeat his historic 2019 season? Will Fabio Quartararo start winning races and upset Márquez' plans? Will the Yamaha be competitive enough for Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi to take the fight to the world champion? Will the Ducati finally turn the corners? Will Joan Mir beat his teammate Alex Rins? Will KTM and Aprilia make real progress and turn MotoGP into a fair six-way fight?
To a brighter and better 2020
There will be a lot to write about. And I hope to be more focused, and better able to pick and choose what matters. Next year, I hope to do better.
And I hope to make some other improvements to the site as well. I hope to have a new site design – simpler, cleaner, faster – at some point during 2020. I intend to make subscriptions a little easier, and offer more options to subscribe.
So thanks again to everyone for reading, and especially to those who have supported the site this year, and throughout the years. It is hugely appreciated. If you want to help the site do better, please consider taking out a subscription if you haven't already, or make a donation, either via Paypal or to the site's GoFundme.
Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, whatever and however you celebrate, may you find joy, warmth, and love. Best wishes for 2020, a year which promises to be a fascinating season of racing, and thank you all once again.
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