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 are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
The 225mph MotoGP bike: how fast is too fast?
Johann Zarco’s jaw-dropping top speed during last weekend’s Qatar grand prix raised inevitable questions…
Britain’s first motorcycle race was staged in the grounds of a stately home in Richmond, Surrey, on November 29, 1897. The winning machine reached a top speed of “somewhere about 27mph”, which aroused the spectators into “a state of wild excitement because anything approaching the speed we attained had never before been witnessed”.
In other words, all things are relative.
When Johann Zarco attained 225.2mph/362.6kmh during last Saturday’s FP2 session at Losail some MotoGP commentators and fans were aroused into a state of wild excitement, although the riders seemed less impressed.
It has always been thus.
I once asked three-times 500cc world champion Wayne Rainey what’s the fastest he’s ever been.
“Three hundred and twenty three kays at Fukuroi,” he replied. (That’s 201mph at Yamaha’s Japanese test track.)
So, how did it feel?
“It felt like it needed another tooth off the rear sprocket,” he answered.
So the speed itself meant diddly squat to Rainey, his only concern was getting the gearing right. Not a hint of a buzz and certainly no fear.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re doing 150 or 205,” Rainey added. “You don’t feel the sensation.”
Until you pop up from under the bubble to hit the brakes…
Zarco’s speed record aboard his Pramac Ducati Desmosedici GP21 is about 90mph faster than the bikes that contested the earliest premier-class world championships in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.