Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MotoGP Rant: Make My Monogomme, Punk

MotoGP's fearless leaders have finally seen sense and brought in a one tyre rule, or monogomme as it is succinctly known in a couple of foreign languages. (Well, monogomma in Italian, but I prefer the Franglicized version of the word in honour of Michelin). This has resulted in various snobs and purists erupting into the kind of wailing and crying that you wouldn't normally see outside a South American funeral parade.

The trouble is, MotoGP is a championship for prototype machinery. It's on the ragged edge of technology, with things like pneumatic valve actuation and traction control packages that cost a lot more than your house. Surely, they wail, they should be allowed prototype tyres too? Isn't switching to a monogomme a travesty that will lead to the destruction of the sport? Well, every single other major motorsports championship in the world seems to be doing OK with their single tyre rules. Pretty much every minor championship too, come to think of it. (I mean, AMA Superbike had a tyre war this year, but the soul-destroyingly tedious AMA Superbike series has now been poisoned, shot, hanged and pushed off a bridge into an icy river.)

Wouldn't a single tyre rule in MotoGP just turn it into a glorified version of... whisper it... world superbikes? God forbid that you'd want to be more like a championship with unpredictable races, multiple winners, close racing, and from next year, factory or semi-factory teams from Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha! Presumably they would like MotoGP to be, as a certain arrogant, whoring aristocrat described Boremula One, like a game of chess.

Does a single tyre rule change the riders' talent, or the teams' ability to produce a great bike? No, of course not. What it changes is the gap between the haves and have nots. Let's get real, are all Bridgestone MotoGP tyres equal? Hell, no. Stoner and Rossi get what they ask for, and everyone else gets what they're given. If Suzuki and Kawasaki get equal treatment, then why did they just bring out significally altered chassis so they could try to use the tyres developed for Stoner and Rossi?

Tyre wars suck, and the tyre war in the last two years of MotoGP has been one of the suckiest in history. Again and again, Michelin runners, who make up a significant part of the grid, have struggled with rubbish tyres. I'm sure the purists have been juicing themselves with glee at the prototype competition, while the rest of us have been disgusted at having to snooze through yet another boring "race". Even Laguna Seca would have been a three-way battle between Rossi, Stoner and Hayden if it hadn't been for the tyre war. (Nicky kicked everyone's backside when the front runners were all on Michelins, don't tell me he would still have been 30 seconds behind the leader.)

At the end of the day, it's a big reality check for the whingeing purists. MotoGP isn't about prototypes. It's about entertainment. Companies don't spend fortunes plastering their logos on bikes because of prototypes, they do it because there are millions of potential customers watching. The hardcore, purist fans are sadly meaningless in all this, they simply aren't a big enough market to bother about. It's all about the average fan, who doesn't know or care about pneumatic valves or engine management units, but loves to see a damn good race.

If you want proof, look at Boremula One. Even they have changed rules to try and make their tedious parade of boring cheats look interesting. They have banned traction control (Gasp! But how will racing improve the breed now?) and force drivers to use both hard and soft compound monogomme tyres during the course of each "race" (Oh, won't somebody please think of the prototype competition?) Is MotoGP above this? Above commercial reality? No.

There's no point crowing about Laguna Seca. One race in the entire season has had a major battle. The rest haven't. One way to make the racing closer is to make everybody use the same tyres. Now it's going to happen. I'm looking forward to it. Rant over.


Kropotkin said...

A single tire rule won't make the racing any closer.

The problem isn't the tires, it's the constant rule changes. Stop messing around with the rules, and everyone has a chance to catch up. MotoGP needs 3 or 4 years after every rule change for the disparities to disappear, and a single tire rule won't help in this regard.

Next year you'll see Stoner running away with some races, Pedrosa running away with some races, and just occasionally, Rossi, Stoner and Lorenzo battling it out for the win.

I would also refer you to Jeremy Burgess' comments over on MCN. Highly illuminating.

Obviously, you'll disagree with me entirely, but that's OK. You're allowed to be wrong ;-)

Jimmy said...

Always glad to have your input, Kropotkin. Even if you're misguided on this issue. :-)

I absolutely agree with you about the constant rule changes. Don't get me started, I'll be ranting about the move 800cc again!