Month: January 2014

MotoGP: Are Ducati planning a move into the open class for 2014?

First, a shameless plug.

This was originally going to just be news, but solid sources and some good quotes mean the news bit is now here at crash.net:

http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/199360/1/ducati-switching-to-open-class-for-motogp-2014.html

The website is also a great place to discuss the story with 38 comments after just a few hours in print as I type this (it currently has 123 Facebook likes, 54 re-tweets and amazingly has even amassed two whole +1 Google shares as of now!)

I think after Ducati’s news a sit down with a nice strong cup of tea is in order!
Ducati cups image by e-supreme available via Flickr and used under the creative commons agreement.

So for those who are still here reading instead here’s whats occurred.

In an interview posted by Italian based website GPOne.com (link to site available in Crash.net article) Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso is quoted as saying that when testing resumes in February in Sepang that the ‘Factory’ team riders will be testing both the prototype GP14 they were expecting to be riding next season… and the ‘Open’ class Ducati that will be used by Pramac rider Yonny Hernandez.

Ducati seem keen to reveal that they have found little difference in the performance of the two bikes in the testing done so far. The plan therefore seems to be to run an as close to ‘Factory’ effort as possible while exploiting the benefits which come from being an ‘Open’ class entry – more fuel allowance, less engine restriction and as it stands, softer tyre options.

The major negative is the requirement to run the spec ECU package.

On the face of it, if all goes to plan this could be a shrewd move by Ducati.

The Desmosedici has not won a race since 2010 and struggled to a best of fourth last season. It was previously a championship winner under the control of Casey Stoner.

It is clear that after drafting in some of the worlds best mechanics, riders and developers with, for whatever reason, no improvement, that something must be done.

There is a level of expertise to the idea too – Ducati’s new General Manager, Gigi Dall’Igna, was in control at Aprilla last year instead, spearheading the performance of the only CRT bike entries to challenge the Factory and Satellite teams, with CRT champion Aleix Espargaro aboard the most successful of the bikes and often finding his skills mixed with the performance more than a match for the Satellite Ducati’s and even tangling with their Factory entries for final position.

The Open class has been brought in to replace the CRT category.

Though it looks to be a smart move, and certain to put Honda’s backs up (they had threatened to pull out of the championship over future electrical changes and restrictions so another GOOD thing to come from this if it goes ahead) it was until yesterday, until it was said, unthinkable. A step backwards for some of the red machines fans. A step away from a coveted ‘Factory’ bike for the riders.

If you are a casual bike follower perhaps it is easiest to consider it in terms of another sport, lets try F1 for an example:

The equivalent would be telling Vettel he was going to ride out 2014 in a new, improved Torro Rosso instead of the Red Bull but it will still be competitive as he has more fuel to play with and can hopefully use some really soft tyres, as long as the rules aren’t changed before the start of the season. And he doesn’t have to have his engine sealed.

Exactly.

Dovizioso is currently putting a brave face on his ride into/onto the unknown next month.

His very honest and vocal new team-mate Cal Crutchlow is a newlywed. when he returns from his honeymoon it will be interesting to see where he stands on the idea as, though he had little option in the end, he had always backed up his move to Ducati with the argument that he wanted to be at a ‘Factory Team’ to be able to win races…

Personally I hope the test goes well and the move works in their favour, competition is needed to make MotoGP a great spectacle again, and if this gives Ducati the ability to mix it up with the Yamaha and Honda riders, then that can only be a positive, for the championship and viewers alike.

 

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Rush. Reviewed. (Blu-Ray)

Rush movie 2013 Blu Ray

It’s not released until the end of January, so I have no idea how it found it’s way into my Christmas stocking…

First thing’s first. I love great motorsport movies. Bike or car. As they have come out since Blu-Ray became a format ‘Rush’ now sits proudly next to the excellent MotoGP documentary ‘Fastest’ and the award winning ‘Senna’.

Naturally I would have loved to have seen this all fresh and new at the cinema.

This is how my local cinema used to look:

Not as swish as it’s ‘ Forum’ days, but at least it was still showing films!
Ealing cinema image by Kevin R Boyd, via Flickr, used under the creative commons agreement.

This is it now:

This is a shot from 2009… and how it still looks today.
Ealing. The bit of London with Ealing Studios, famous for Ealing comedies?! A building site for a cinema – still!
Local rant over.
All details as before except image by Flickr user markhillary.

So short of the amount of round-trip hours needed to go the cinema these days, I have been excitedly waiting for January 27th, as ‘Rush’ was due to be my birthday present!

Then it magically appeared from Santa instead! Merry Christmas indeed!

So, to the film. I knew the subject well.  As a period movie the seventies seemed alive with good use of colour tone and props. I’ll overlook Hunt’s trimphone having the wrong ring as I grew up with one in my house (same colour too!) as hardly anyone else will have noticed! There’s a few bits of racing truth omitted or altered for the cinema too, but it all helps the film run smoothly.

Chris Hemsworth did a solid job of portraying James Hunt and looks like he had a barrel of fun evoking the British drivers lavish playboy lifestyle. Hunt was a true character of the sport and Hemsworth’s acting is filled with his spirit.

The star turn though comes from Daniel Bruhl. Playing the moody ‘Rat’ Niki Lauda, the other necessity for a good F1 vs battle – the natural racing brain, is much more of a stretch for an actors talent and is performed to perfection by Bruhl, who is a great piece of casting visually as Lauda.

It is easy to see why he is a Golden Globe nominee for his turn in the film.

The film’s focus is the pairs physical dedication and opposite psychology over the infamous 1976 Formula 1 season, which though enthralling and emotional, especially when you enevitably reach Lauda’s crash, but this means there is a sparse amount of what the fans of the sport tune in for religiously every weekend – racing.

What racing there is is a beautifully choreographed feast when necessary inter-cut with archive footage to really give the feel of the danger and the speed of car racing 1970’s style.

The result is, as the movie is ‘based on a true story’ (a phrase that can kill a flim’s appeal in an instant!) you reach exactly the conclusion you were expecting, the two men are who they are and that is what fuels each of them to race, to live, but it is a story told beautifully by director Ron Howard.

He himself claimed to have found the film to be his toughest reality test since involving NASA for Apollo 13, but his love for the sport is evident and he has successfully made a film fans can enjoy but which has a strong enough, well told story to (hopefully) entice outsiders into the F1 circus.

I just really would have liked a little more racing to have made a thoroughly enjoyable movie spot-on (for me, at least!)

The special features on the disc consist of ‘deleted scenes’ ‘The real story of Rush’ and ‘Race for the chequered flag: The making of Rush’ each of which are interesting in their own right and a plus for fans of Formula 1.

Time to think positive – Schumacher – a sporting genius.

The news of Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident broke over the festive period. The German is currently said to be in a stable but critical condition after four nights in hospital battling against his brain injuries.

More news reports detailing the timeline of his accident can be found on the F1 dedicated WordPress blog AmerF1can, well worth a read to catch up on the facts and quotes.

The other side to Schumacher.
Promoting road safety with a group of children during global road safety week. Image via makeroadssafe via Flickr and used under the creative commons agreement.

I don’t usually cover F1. There are many people who blog about it with more knowledge and passion than I ever could. Senna was my F1 hero and Schumacher/Hill the last rivalry to truly get me shouting at the t.v..

A flurry of comments on news sites and blogs full of vitriol for the time he shoved Hill to take the title eventually lead me to my keyboard.

Schumacher is still here and still fighting like a World Champion to stay here, so it’s time for a little positive thought:

In regards to the accident not only was the committed family man enjoying quality time with his wife and son, German newspaper Bild reports he only got into trouble on the slopes after keeping a watchful eye on the younger members of the ski party and rushing to the aid of one of his friends daughters, with the paper widely quoted in the UK press as saying:

‘Suddenly the daughter of a friend crashed. Schumi helps the girl, leaving the groomed area and moves about 20 metres in the deep snow between the slopes Biche and Mauduit.’

The multiple world champion was also reported to have been wearing a helmet, which if reports of it spitting in two are later confirmed could have made all the difference.

In terms of motorsport, he was a game-changer.

He was not afraid to make enemies to win.

He took fitness to new levels.

He had a will to win to be celebrated (though celebrating his success and dominance is easier with the passing of time if you were a fan of any of the other drivers of his era!)

He has a true racers brain and knew which people and what machinery to surround himself with and develop in order to be successful and the power through winning to demand what he needed.

He broke records. He set new ones.

He provided entertainment by being the pantomime villain everyone loved to hate.

He brought in viewers, whose curiosity turned them into fans for either ‘Schumi’ or one of his many on-track rivals.

He bent the rules a bit. He won a title from the pit lane.

He won for different manufacturers when they were not necessarily at their peak.

He made F1 interesting.

Whilst an F1 driver he took determination to new levels and seemingly did not know how to lose. He was from the workmanlike mould of Lauda in many ways, a man who also had a life altering accident, albeit on-track, but had the determination to pull through and to win again.

Hopefully Schumacher has the will to do the same. Good Luck.