Did anyone read the race track article in Sept's "Bike?"
Anyone read the Mat Oxley article about new race tracks? Thought it was a pretty interesting read. Ill transcribe it here since I cant find it online.
From the September 05 Bike magazine.
Idiot racetrack designers are spoiling out enjoyment of racing, reckons Bike's MotoGP hack
"There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games," said hard drinking writer Ernest Hemingway. Iím assuming that the original 20th century man's man would've included bikes within motor racing because bike racers are at least as rough n' tough as matadors, mountain climbers and car racers.
Hemmingway's words came to me during MotoGP's long awaited and much hyped return to Laguna Seca for last month's USGP. Laguna is a scary track, way more dangerous than anywhere else that Rossi and Co ply their trade. Itís America's Brands Hatch, plunging up and down like a rollercoaster, a proper Wild West ride in pretty Californian scenery, some of which is way too close for comfort. It's the kind of place where you feel proper awe watching riders do their thing, because you know the consequence of a mistake would be very messy. Winner Nicky Hayden was genuinely awesome to behold through Laguna's notorious turn one- a 160 MPH left-hander over the brow of a hill-drifting both wheels at full lean regardless of the cliff face a few yards away.
I feel a little uneasy that Iím so entertained by watching riders attack that kind of corner, which tests their skills and even more so their bravery to the very limit. I hate to admit it but I find that watching much more fun than worlds fastest, most fearless rider perfectly execute Valencia's Turn two, or three or four or five or six or seven or pretty much any other second or third gear corner at Losail, Shanghai, Motegi, Rockingham, Oschersleben, Lausitzring or any other recently constructed glorified go-kart track.
So what am I on about, taking the British GP back to the Island of Man? Obviously not. But I reckon someone needs to do something before all racetracks are soulless ribbons or tarmac, dominated by identikit slow to medium slow corners that are merely a game of technique and technology, rather than the sport of balls and bravery. What do the designers of these places think they are doing? Well, the German architects who laid out Shanghai created the circuit in the shape of the Chinese character Shang (meaning above which is the origin of the port city's name, Shanghai or above the ocean.) Lovely concept guys, but they've ended up with a mind numbing layout. There is not one corner at Shanghai you'd ever look forward to riding around. Same with Losail (in Qatar), which the designers created by linking together a dozen different corners from other tracks. Again, nice idea, but they've built a soulless, formulaic track where the corners are indistinguishable from one another. You can spend a whole weekend watching practice and racing at Losail and still not recognize one corner from the next. I feel we should condemn these people to purgatory, where they shall ride laps of their own sorry creations for eternity, forever forbidden to take a leak.
Ironically, a lot of riders agree. They want safety, but they also want a challenge and a thrill, as Neil Hodgson says: "I hate tracks like Valencia, places that are glorified car parks." In Bike last month British 250 rider Chaz Davies revealed that he likes "ballsy corners, the stuff you've got to really grit your teeth for, that's what you get the biggest adrenaline rush from."
Mick Doohan was the same, his fave corner was at the old Salzburgring, a daunting 180MPH right-left twister with zero runoff, Armco one side, mountainside the other. "I know itís dangerous," he said. "But to me it's everything racing is about."
Yes, racing is about speed, which doesnít mean a second gear corner, shift to third and then fourth, back to second for the next corner, up to third then back to first for the hairpin. It means a few slowish turns, plenty of medium to fast corners and a long straight. And shite racetracks aren't just boring to ride around, they also promote processional racing because they donít have the kind of corners where riders can stay close and they donít have long enough straights to allow slipstreaming. You always get the closest, most exciting racing at the fastest, open and epic tracks like Phillip Island, Mugello, Catalunya and Sepang. Those last two are both modern venues, designed in the 90s, which proves that inspire, intelligent track designers can still produce fast, yet safe layouts. Sadly I haven't got a clue how we stop this pox of humdrum racetracks spreading across the globe. Have you?
"Oh and if you dare say that I dont know whats it like get a freakin clue! I date models and strippers. So dont tell me that I dont know whats its like!" - BDiddy