7. Here's something I heard about at Laguna USGP; I'd like to get your reaction to it. One MotoGP team, who shall remain nameless, the crew were watching 600 Supersport practice, and as the bikes went through Turn 11 on about the third lap, and as the riders accelerated hard the bikes slid sideways, hooked up and wheelied out of the corner. Seeing this, the MotoGP crew reacted like drunken monkeys. They hooted and hollared; and smiled, laughing with a 'that's cool' look on their faces. They were impressed to see bikes doing that. Their team manager said that because of traction control they haven't seen bikes do that in two and a half years in MotoGP.
A Well, I think it's a pretty general consensus across the board amongst the riders that electronics are making it very difficult to find the opportunity, to create the ability or the opportunity to pass somebody. Everybody gets on the gas at about the same time, the electronics all work just about the same, and going off into the corner it's now just a push come to shove on the brakes. I think the racing would be better without electronics. Yeah, I think seeing bikes sideways—even a couple of years ago, back when they were still 1000s, the racing was better, I think. Electronics are definitely the way everything's headed, and if you use Formula One as the motorsports Mecca, the draw, the thing everybody looks at, that racing's gotten boring too. The only place they pass now is in the pits, and unfortunately for MotoGP, we don't do pit stops. The only time they do is when it goes from wet to dry, or dry to wet. My opinion is, electronics have really made the average guy be able to go out and go fast, and everybody qualifies really, really well, and I think that we're paying too much attention to that.
When I rode 500s, the front row was typically a second. The second row was another second. If you were on the third row, we considered ourselves on the barbecue row, because that may as well be where we were, at home having a barbecue, because we'd never stand a chance from the third row. But seeing everybody, all 20 bikes within less than a second or a second and a half in qualifying, hasn't made the racing any better. We need to go back to letting these guys really ride these things, and wrestle these things around. The one thing it's going to do is, it's going to make it a whole lot less forgiving of a sport. You're going to start seeing more banged-up riders walking around. Why? Because of all the power that the modern-day equipment has. With 250 horsepower, I doubt anybody would ever use all the power. You'd end up pulling plug wires, you'd end up doing something that wasn't proper traction control. When those things decide to snap sideways and spit you off, it's going to be a pretty hairy ride.
8. Not taking anything away from MotoGP at all—at all—but there's still something missing in the way that a 500 went into the corner, in the middle of the corner, and exited the corner, the combination of finesse going in and complete brutality coming out. Your thoughts?
A I think you'd start to see that finesse ... I think we're starting to see it a little bit more getting in, and to the middle. But getting rid of the electronics is what I think would be the fix. A smaller displacement, 800cc bikes, taking all the electronics away, you're not going to have all that saving grace helping you getting out. You're going to have to get in, you're going to have to pick that throttle up as soon as you can, you're going to have to start trying to finesse the thing out. Whereas now it's just kind of grab it and do what you want, hang on. But I think the electronics would bring a little bit of that mystique back that there used to be in 500cc Grand Prix racing.
9. Turn 12 at Road Atlanta. What to do?
A Fix it.
That's, straightforward, the only respectable thing to do. Yeah, we've got an event coming up there, we need to do everything we can there. Hay bales, anything they can do safety-wise to make it safe enough for this event. But then, the proper fix for Turn 12 at Road Atlanta is tons of runoff, completely changing the corner and making it safe.
10. What can be done before the next AMA event, besides bales and air fence?
A I don't know of anything else you can do right now. My take is move the tower inside to where the media center should be. Get rid of the bridge so that none of those footings play any part in it. If you need to get from one side to the other, the outside is for spectating or the support paddock, but if you want to go inside, to have some kind of shuttles to run you around and up the hill and across to where vendor row is, or back down into the pro paddock. It's not - there's not an easy fix to it. There's not an economical fix to it. But I think if Road Atlanta and the AMA - from a Road Atlanta perspective, they have to understand that the riders don't consider Turn 12 to be safe, because it's not. They need to align themselves with the AMA and come up with a plan of when they're going to fix that, and that's before there's ever another race on it. If there has to be 12 months where they're not going, where AMA doesn't go race at Road Atlanta, then that's fine. But then they plan on coming back, because it's such a financial commitment to the track, that they really need to know that when they get it fixed, they can have an event back there. There's other things that need attention at Road Atlanta, too. Turn 12 is by far the biggest of the problems, but I think you've got to have management that's willing to make an investment in a sport such as motorcycling. You're never going to fix that track for nothing. You're going to have to spend some money. I wish it was safe the way it is, but it's not.
11. Roger Lee Hayden might have a shot to go MotoGP racing. There seems to be some question as to whether he wants to go or not. Should he go?
A My take on going MotoGP racing is, can you stand around and say "I'm the winningest Supersport or Superstock or AMA Superbike rider ever," or "I am MotoGP World Champion." To me, to have conquered the world means a whole lot more—meant a whole lot more to me when I was racing. I never even thought for an instant about doing anything any different. When somebody said, "You want to go do some Grands Prix?" I was like, "When?" and "Where?" and "Do I have to swim to get over there, or can I actually fly?" So. Anybody that has the opportunity and is still fairly young in age, should jump at it. It's the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. It is the championship of all championships.
12. In the same vein, Chaz Davies. How do you rate him? It's rumored that he doesn't think he's ready for a Superbike.
A Come on, Chaz. The only way you're ever going to get ready is to get on one. You can ride 600 and Formula Xtreme bikes forever, and I don't think you're ever—ever—going to get the experience that you need to be comfortable immediately jumping on a Superbike, a World Superbike, or a MotoGP bike. You've just got to go do it. I think Chaz is a great talent. I think he's done a great job for his lack of experience on any tracks here in America. He has really, I think, opened some eyes. He's got some pretty decent equipment underneath him, and I think he's kind of been the pinnacle of what Yamaha's done, with the exception of a couple events where Josh Herrin seems to maybe have gotten just the better of him.
13. You're flicking into this role of the elder statesman of the paddock. Are you comfortable with that, or do you still get up in the morning with your head is stuck in 'racer mode'?
A No, I'm pretty good with just sitting back and watching now. I went to the hospital and saw Miguel Duhamel after he crashed in Turn 12. And I don't ... I did not, I did not want to be in his position. I remember what it felt like laying there, all attached, all hooked up to wires, oxygen, struggling to breathe, broken ribs, punctured lung, internally as beat up as he was. I'm 43, and unless I go crash my motocross bike or fall off my mountain bike or bust my ass playing around on my trials bike, I get up in the morning and I hurt bad enough anyway. I don't need to still have my head pounded to try and prove something to somebody.
"Itīs not easier to ride, but I donīt need something easier, I need something faster." - Nicky Hayden #69
Next Track Days (NESBA): September 10 - Summit (Main)
Last edited by sooperman12; 08-16-2007 at 10:30 AM.