Shoya Tomizawa

Interview: Veteran Crew Chief Gilles Bigot, Part 1 - On Valentino Rossi, Shoya Tomizawa, Kenan Sofuoglu, And Adapting As A Rider

Gilles Bigot, the French crew chief of Marc VDS MotoGP rider Tom Lüthi, has been in MotoGP a long time. In that time, he has seen a lot of riders come and go, and learned an awful lot about racing. At Jerez, I spoke to the Frenchman about the process of adapting to MotoGP. What started out as an attempt to get to the bottom of the problems Tom Lüthi faces in his switch to MotoGP after spending so many years in Moto2 became something much deeper, and much more interesting. We ended up speaking for half an hour, all of which was fascinating.

In the first part of the interview, Bigot talks about his involvement in three key transitions. First, the switch from two strokes to four strokes, when the MotoGP machines replaced the 500cc bikes, and how Valentino Rossi made that jump faster and more easily than anyone else. Next, the introduction of the Moto2 class, when he was crew chief to Shoya Tomizawa, and how the Japanese youngster adapted to four strokes. And finally, why Kenan Sofuoglu, who eventually took over Tomizawa's seat after the tragic death of the Japanese rider, never really adapted to Moto2, and ended up going back to World Supersport.

Bigot had been crew chief to Alex Crivillé in 1999, when the Spaniard won his, and Spain's, first premier class title. After Crivillé retired at the end of 2001, Bigot embarked on a new project, working with the Tech3 team, who were at that point considering entering MotoGP. For the first part of the 2002 season, the year in which the four stroke 990cc MotoGP bikes made their first appearance, Bigot spent his time at the side of the track, watching the bikes and learning to understand the difference between the old two strokes and the new four strokes.

Gilles Bigot: I spent one year with the Tech3 team. I was in Grand Prix but at that time they wanted to set up a team for Sylvain Guintoli, with Gauloises and Yamaha. That was the idea from Hervé. Then at the end we did it. We did a couple of tests and we did one Grand Prix in Brno. So meanwhile I was doing this, some testing, and of course I was also going to the races. I was doing basically, not sight-seeing, but I was spotting some areas. It was the year of the transition with the 500 and MotoGP, so that was very interesting to watch. I witnessed a few things that were at that time very interesting.

Q: Such as?

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2013 Misano MotoGP Post-Race Round Up: An Imperious Lorenzo, Rookie Mistakes, And Remembering Shoya

If half a second is a long time around Misano, seven tenths of a second is almost a geological era. Jorge Lorenzo was lacking grip and braking stability on Saturday; on Sunday morning, Ramon Forcada stiffened the front to improve Lorenzo's braking, and the factory Yamaha man crushed the opposition in the warm up. Four hours later, the reigning world champion did exactly the same again in the race, destroying his rivals in the first three laps, and holding on for a victory that was both overwhelming and important.

The first three laps? Lorenzo probably won the race in the first 100 meters off the line. Lorenzo had fluffed his practice starts on Saturday, bogging down and not really getting off the line. On Sunday, he was so fast away off the line that he had two bike lengths before he had even changed up into second gear. By the time he crossed the timing line at the end of the first sector, he was already 0.4 seconds ahead. By the end of the first lap, he was 1.2 seconds ahead. It was already game over.

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2012 Misano Thursday Round Up: Of Fallen Riders, Ducati's Junior Team, And The ECU Face Off

The return to Misano was always going to be an emotional affair, the first time MotoGP has returned to Marco Simoncelli's home circuit - now renamed in his honor - since the Italian fan favorite was killed in a tragic accident at Sepang last October. Though Simoncelli is being remembered in many different ways during the weekend - nearly all of the riders in all three classes joined for a lap of the track by bicycle this evening - the remembrance has been cheerful rather than mawkish, a celebration of his life rather than mourning at his death. Fans, riders, mechanics, photographers, journalists, many have made the pilgrimage to Coriano, Simoncelli's home town just a few short miles from the track, paid their respects and headed to the circuit feeling better for the experience. Simoncelli's ghost may haunt the paddock at Misano, but happily, he does so in the guise of Casper rather than Banquo.

Back to top 2011 Motorcycle Racing Calendar Now Shipping - Get One In Time For The Holidays!

The 2011 Motorcycle Racing Calendar is finally shipping, and just in time for the holidays. Scott and David are busy stuffing envelopes and sending the existing orders out, and our stock of calendars is dwindling fast. So if you want to get a calendar in time for the holidays, as a gift for your motorcycle-racing obsessed loved one, now is the time to put in your order.

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Last Chance To Get Pre-Sale Discount On 2011 Calendar!

Well, the presses have stopped rolling, and a stack of 2011 Motorcycle Racing Calendars are sitting at the printers waiting to be delivered. That means shipping will start some time on Monday (or Tuesday morning at the latest), and the calendars will start winging their way to their lucky owners.

It also means that the pre-sale period will come to an end, and the price will go up, from $19.95 plus S&H to $21.95 plus S&H. So if you want to take advantage of our pre-sales discount, secure in the knowledge that your calendar is just a few days away from dropping onto your doormat, then you have to hurry. The prices go up on Monday night.

Back to top 2011 Motorcycle Racing Calendar Goes On Sale!

After the huge success of the past two years, the 2011 Motorcycle Racing Calendar is about to hit the printing presses. To expedite shipping and the organizational challenges we face, we're ready to start taking orders for the calendars, so we can ship them out to you as soon as we receive them.

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Rossi, Hayden And Dovizioso Speak About The Safety Commission Meeting On Tomizawa And Astroturf

After the dramatic events of Misano, which saw Shoya Tomizawa lose his life after crashing during the Moto2 race, attendance at the Safety Commission meeting at Aragon - the first convened after Misano - was very strong. Everyone had come to hear Race Direction explain their actions, and give their reasons for not red-flagging the Moto2 race, and a long discussion ensued over the pros and cons of having astroturf on the outside of corners.

All of the riders who attended described the meeting as very positive, and the atmosphere as very open. The riders said that Race Direction was very open to the ideas of the riders, and everyone in the room was looking for lessons that could be learned from the incident involving Tomizawa, Scott Redding and Alex de Angelis.

Nicky Hayden, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso were three of the riders present at the meeting. Here's what they had to say about the meeting afterwards.

Nicky Hayden

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Tomizawa Awarded Metraux Trophy And Has His Number Retired From Moto2

Dorna have just announced that Shoya Tomizawa is to receive a very special tribute from the MotoGP paddock. The Moto2 rider, who was killed in a tragic accident at Misano two weeks' ago, is to have his number retired from the Moto2 championship and has been posthumously awarded the Michel Metraux trophy for the best Moto2 rider of the year. Below is the official press release:

MotoGP honours Shoya Tomizawa's memory

Just under two weeks on from the tragic death of Shoya Tomizawa, winner of the inaugural Moto2 race in Qatar in April of this year and who passed away at the Misano World Circuit on Sunday 5th September, a number of official tributes have been decided upon to honour the Japanese rider.

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Tomizawa Tributes Appearing On Every Bike At Aragon

The MotoGP paddock was hit hard by Shoya Tomizawa's tragic death during the Moto2 race at Misano, and here in Aragon, everyone seems to be saluting the fallen Japanese rider in one form or another. Every bike on the grid is carrying a #48 sticker in honor of Tomizawa, with some carrying his number on their leathers or helmet, while others have stickers on the front mudguard (for an example, see Neil Spalding's photo from his Twitter page). Japanese rider Yuki Takahashi is wearing a black armband to commemorate his friend and compatriot.

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Elias Proposes Awarding Michel Metraux To Shoya Tomizawa

With the paddock reconvened at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Alcañiz, Shoya Tomizawa's tragic death at the last race in Misano is still very much at the forefront of everybody's minds. During the traditional pre-event press conference, Gresini Moto2 rider Toni Elias proposed a fitting tribute to the fallen Technomag CIP rider. The Spaniard suggested that Tomizawa be posthumously awarded the Michel Metraux trophy, presented to the best privateer of the season, in recognition of his achievements and as a mark of respect.

Elias' proposal has been made possible by a recent change in the system for awarding the trophy, which previously went to the best-placed privateer in the 250cc class. With all of the Moto2 riders now officially privateers, the system has been changed to peer selection system, with all of the riders in the Moto2 class choosing their best rider of the year at the end of the season.

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