27 July 2014

Mid-season review: Josh Harland

With the European Junior Cup well into it's summer break, we at PaddockChatter take a look over Josh Harland's season in the series so far, with the 20 year old lying in eighth in the championship standings.
Josh celebrates pole at home
Photo: Josh Harland Racing

Harland had a steady start to his 2014 campaign, with the first track on the EJC calender being Aragon in Spain, where Josh finished his opening free practice session of the season in sixth. Taking his pace through to qualifying he secured an impressive front row start in third, giving himself a clear run to the line. In the close battle for the win Josh was able to secure a top ten position, just 0.038s shy of ninth.

Rain mixed things up a bit in Assen, and Harland found himself with a lot of work to do a from 14th on the grid following a tough qualifying, which saw him struggle to find any slipstream to get him into a strong position on the grid. He knew he had the pace to fight at the front and was in good spirits ahead of the race. Harland was up into third position after a strong fight through the field, but was pushed back into fifth on the last lap. Although all was not lost and the no.93 rider moved back up into third on the back straight. Unfortunately he lost the front end of his CBR500R but was able to rejoin the race and cross the line in 11th position.

26 July 2014

Midweek Debrief - War for Four resumes

We are now in the deep dark depths of the World Championship motorcycle road racing summer break with both MotoGP and World Superbikes having several weeks break for riders to recover, contracts to be drawn up and signed, and for elite racers young and old to compete in the infamous Suzuka 8 Hour race taking place this evening GMT. This edition of Midweek Debrief, or 'Weekend Debrief' as it should be appropriately renamed, will be taking a look back at the main two wheeled racing action from the last two weeks.
Game on!
Photo: British Superbikes

The MotoGP headlines shared the same theme as the previous 8 rounds following the German Grand Prix from Sachsenring as Marc Marquez took his ninth win from nine rounds despite difficult weathers conditions at the start of the race and a jam-packed pit lane doing their very best to off put the reigning world champion. Stefan Bradl took the early lead on his wet setup but slick tyre-shod RC213V Honda ahead of Michael Laverty as 13 riders from the main field opted to start the race from pit lane due to a change of motorcycle come the end of the warm up lap. Bradl was swiftly reeled in however, as Marquez followed by team mate Dani Pedrosa stormed through into first and second where they finished respectively at the end of the race. Jorge Lorenzo clinched the final podium spot with Valentino Rossi finishing just behind in fourth.

On the other side of the World outside Monterey in California the World Superbike Championship rocked the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a whole host of surprises (and bruises) across the two races with Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes sharing the winner's champagne on Sunday two weeks ago. There were some harrowing incidents on race day which lead to a race stoppage in the second outing. Crashes from Alex Lowes and Davide Giugliano coming down the corkscrew left viewers with hearts firmly in their mouths, as did Chaz Davies' uncomfortable looking bang to the head in race one.  A collision between Christian Iddon and Sylvain Barrier coming out of the final corner which caused the red flag in race two resulted in Barrier breaking a heel on the concrete pit wall. Fortunately, aside from Barrier's heel injury, no serious injuries were sustained by any of the other fallen riders.  With 40 days rest until the next round in Jerez, it's reigning champion Tom Sykes who tops the championship standings ahead of Guintoli, Rea, Baz and Melandri rounding out the top 5.

Finally we had the British Superbikes from the Brands Hatch GP circuit, a weekend always guaranteed to be a good one for spectators and riders alike. Scorching British summer weather greeted the riders on Friday and Saturday, with track temperatures in Kent reaching 45 degrees. But what would a British summer be without rain? The threat of thunder storms loomed over the track on Sunday just in time for race two, resulting in a tense grid in an attempt to beat the rain. This came after Ryuichi Kiyonari put on a stunning show for us all on his Buildbase BMW in race one, securing his second win in two weeks and taking the fight to Byrne. Race two started dry, but a terrifying crash from James Ellison caused it to be red flagged after fuel was found on the track. A re-start, again in the dry was cut short due to rain on the track. Starting race two for the third time, it was Tyco Suzuki's Josh Waters time to shine as he cut through the field and won in fantastic style, with the podium completed by Dan Cooper and Keith Farmer. Luckily the lightning didn't strike but the rain did mix it all up a bit.

24 July 2014

Iddon responds to Barrier crash claims

Bimota Alstare's Christian Iddon has responded to claims surrounding Sylvain Barrier's crash at Laguna Seca, which saw the defending Superstock 1000 champion break his heel.
Shortly after Barrier was heading for the pit wall
Photo: Bimota Alstare

In their second collision of the day, Iddon claims the crash was caused following BMW Motorrad's Barrier cutting across the racing line coming out of the final corner and therefore colliding with the Brit, which caused the 'racing incident' as they came onto the home straight.

The race wasn't stopped and disciplinary action wasn't taken on either rider. Barrier has suggested that it was Iddon who caused the crash, saying the Brit crashed into him and now Iddon has put across his side of the crash.

Iddon has explained:“I had hoped to not to need to comment on the crash of Sylvain Barrier in Laguna Seca and have so far stayed quiet. However, following recent escalating and extreme allegations as well as poor behaviour from other parties involved, I feel I now must respond.

22 July 2014

Successful surgery for Ellison after terrifying Brands crash

Lloyds British GBmoto rider James Ellison underwent successful surgery on his right femur yesterday (Monday), after he sustained the injury in a terrifyingly fast crash in the red flagged race two at Brands Hatch this weekend.
Ellison's crash landed him in hospital

The former MotoGP rider was leading the race as his Kawasaki flung him over coming through.... after clipping the grass at the Kent circuit. Seemingly OK at first, Ellison was able to sit up as he watched his competitors fly past just shortly before the red flags we're waved as the bike left fuel on the track.

Airlifted to hospital in order to prevent any further damage to his already pinned pelvis, Ellison was then told he would need surgery on his right hip after he sustained an intertrochanteric fracture (lumps at the top of femur). It also looked as if he would need a skin graft on his injured right knee.

Morphine or just high spirts?
Photo: @racingellison
As is regularly the case with social media these days, Ellison has been keeping his fans up to date on his progress since being admitted to hospital on Sunday night, and has updated as well as reassured fans, showing his spirit hasn't been dampened: "#update Successful op, old femur nail removed, to make way for plates and screws at the 90degree bend going into hip. Knee cap still cracked.... but hole stitched up, no need to graft in the end. Still hurting but my boy left me this so I shud pull thru."

There's still no word on how long the 33 year old will be out of action for, with team principal Mark Smith-Havorsen urging that there's not rush from the team for Ellison's return after speaking yesterday: "After looking so strong all weekend it was a gutting conclusion for James. He was out there leading the race and pushing with the front-running pace he had shown all weekend, but one small mistake has ended with a huge accident that was entirely undeserved. From here we as a team will be doing everything we can to ensure a swift and complete recovery for James so we can see him back out where he belongs, on his Lloyds British GBmoto Kawasaki.  Currently, we have no confirmation on how long he will be out of action for and we'll not be pushing for him to return until he is fully fit and ready to do so. I would like to personally send my best wishes to James, as do the entire team - our well wishes also go to Barry Burrell who had a crash yesterday too."

Jackson thrown into deep end on BSB debut: "I might be suffering a bit tomorrow!"

Lincolnshire's very own pocket rocket, Lee Jackson made his British Superbike debut this past weekend at Brands Hatch alongside completing his usual Pirelli National Superstock 1000 duties for the Buildbase BMW team putting in commendable performances in both qualifying & Sunday's races and marginally missing out on his first points in the top class by a tenth of a second. 
It was an impressive debut for Jackson at Brands
Photo: Buildbase BMW

Having finished his debut season in the National Superstock 1000 class last year fourth overall, Jackson opted to stay with the Buildbase team for 2014 in the hope to battle it out with title favourites Danny Buchan, Hudson Kennaugh and Jason O'Halloran for the championship victory. Following an impressive podium last time out at Knockhill, Jackson sits comfortably in 3rd in this year's championship and nipping at the heels of experienced Aussie Jason O'halloran ahead of him in second. 

As one of Stuart Hicken's BSB team regulars James Westmoreland was sidelined from the action following a successful surgery on his thumb, 18 year old Jackson received the call up to take the Yorkshireman's place at the 'Big Brands Bash' last weekend, an offer too good to refuse despite the former Superstock 600 champion admittedly feeling "a little nervous" about stepping up onto the BSB-spec S1000RR monster.

Jackson was thrown well into the deep end from the off on Friday, not only due to competing in two classes over the weekend but with the added factor of the Garden of England's weather making on-track conditions decidedly slippery in practice. In Saturday's Datatag Extreme Qualifying however, the BMW man utilised the experience and skill of his triple BSB champion team mate Ryuichi Kiyonari showing him the way round in Q1 to climb to 12th position from 21st before unfortunately slipping back into 19th place on the grid for Sunday's first race. Nevertheless, it a solid performance given the the young rider's inexperience in the class and not to mention the fact that he had already qualified 3rd on the grid for the Superstock 1000 race just hours before the BSB sessions.

The rookie took to race day in sensational style with his first outing in the Superstock race, duelling with series leaders Danny Buchan and Jason O'Halloran over the course of the 16 lap race and clinching his second podium of 2014 to further solidify his place at the sharp end of the championship standings. 

20 July 2014

BSB: Kiyonari wins dry race one as Waters secures first BSB win 'under water'

Buildbase BMW's Ryuchici Kiyonari and Josh Waters make it two international winners as they spilt the winners trophies together at Brands Hatch, with the British summer-time weather creating drama giving us one dry and one wet race.
Waters secured his first race win in the wet
Photo: MCE BSB

We had a dramatic start to race one with two warm up laps needed, after John Hopkins had a problem before the lights went out, which resulted in the race being shortened to 19 laps. It was the front three Kawasaki's of Byrne, Walker and Ellison who led the way for the opening four laps with the Lloyds British GBmoto team-mates not letting Byrne break away. The three were closely followed by Kiyonari and Brookes.

Barry Burrell had a nasty crash on the WD40 machine, which meant the safety car was brought out half way through lap four. With the riders bunching up into a big group the safety car went in on the end of the sixth lap, allowing the riders to get back up to speed. Byrne was unable to shake off his fellow Kawasaki riders with Kiyo not far behind, and on the 14th of 19 laps the Japanese rider was able to hit the front with his Buildbase BMW following a close battle with Byrne and Ellison.

Byrne didn't give up however and he soon retook the lead from Kiyonari, and the pair battled for the closing laps before Kiyonari put in the race winning move on the penultimate lap to take his second win in a fortnight.

19 July 2014

BSB: Byrne tops all Kawasaki front row as Brookes crashes

Championship leader Shane Byrne will start tomorrow's British Superbike race from pole position ahead of GBmoto teammate's James Ellison and Chris Walker making it an all-Kawasaki front row at Brands Hatch.
Byrne will start from pole at home
Photo: MCE BSB

Milwaukee Yamaha's Josh Brookes had a tough afternoon down south as he set the fastest time in Q1 before crashing coming out of Westfield Bend which caused the session to be red flagged, however Brookes walked away unharmed. With minimal damage done to his R1, Brookes was able to go back out and make it into Q3 although he crashed for a second time, at Sheene Curve in the closing minutes of the session leaving him down in 8th position on the grid.

After a recent resurge in form, Ryuichi Kiyonari finished Q1 fastest, setting a time of 1.26.859 at the end of the session to take him top on his Buildbase BMW machine. The Japanese rider finished Q3 in sixth position meaning he will start the race from the back of the second row. Rookie Lee Jackson qualified in 19th position on the grid after a strong opening qualifying in the MCE BSB class for Buildbase BMW, making it through into Q2 after a fast lap in the final minutes of Q1.

Lloyds British GBmoto had a strong qualifying session with both riders finishing on the front row following a final surge in the closing minutes of Q3. Ellison and Walker finished Q1 in 3rd and 5th respectively, and after finishing lower down in Q2 they were both able to qualify 0.058 from pole position with Ellison giving Walker a tow on the closing laps.

17 July 2014

Reid Fuelled By XpressCoffee For Brands Hatch and Beyond

National STK600 championship leader Andy Reid has become the latest rider to join the impressive list of riders that are "Fuelled By" XpressCoffee for 2014. Having seen regular wins and podiums from their riders across the Motul British Motostar, National STK 1000 and the MCE British Superbike Championships it became apparent that there was no representation for XpressCoffee in the middleweight division of either STK600 or British Supersport. After much consideration across the two classes, the character of Reid shone through brightest and XpressCoffee are proud to announce the signing of the FFX Yamaha man until the end of the season.
Reid is leading the STK 600 standings

The 18 year old Northern Irishman burst back on to the racing scene last season on board Ryan Saxelby's RS125 Honda and made an immediate impression amongst fans and sponsors alike by taking three victories in the second half of the season at Oulton Park, Cadwell Park and Silverstone. After personal matters at home made Reid question his future in the sport it was the call from Saxelby and the subsequent support from Dale McElveen of Milwaukee Tools that guided the undoubted talent of Reid to his current position at the top of the STK600 Championship table.

XpressCoffee boss Chris Palmer said; "We're delighted to extend our "Fuelled By" stable of riders to accomodate someone of Andy's talent. With our Supersport rider of last season returning to the STK1000 series we were lacking a presence in the 600cc classes. We wanted someone that would complement the youth and talent we already have amongst our riders and one that would give us maximum exposure. We met with Andy and Dale and were immediately struck by the journey he's undertaken to get where he is and his unshakeable determination to succeed, mirroring the attitude of our other junior riders."

Reid added; "Obviously I was aware of XpressCoffee through the team's Yamaha connections and through Dale so I was delighted when Chris wanted to meet up to discuss a possible deal. I'm proud to be a part of the Fuelled By XpressCoffee stable of riders and I know I'm in good company there. I'll be doing all I can to continue the success I've had so far this season and would like to thank XpressCoffee for their support."

16 July 2014

Brough Superior to make Moto2 wildcard in British GP

British Supersport rider Luke Mossey will head Brough Superior's Moto2 wildcard entry as they take to the Silverstone circuit at the end of August on the British designed machine.
Bennett's backed Brough Superior that will debut at Silverstone
Photo: Bennetts

Announcing the entry on BT Sport's MotoGP Tonight on Tuesday, the entry which is backed by Bennetts is being headed by California-based Brits Paul Taylor and John Keogh.

The Carbon 2 machine is a British designed bike and will run with the standard 600cc Honda engine. As well as being tested by Mossey in America, it has won national level races across the Atlantic and features a carbon fibre monocoque design. It has received input from Formula One engineers John McQuilliam and Steve Nichols.

Mossey explained “I can’t wait to race the Bennetts Brough Superior Carbon 2. I’ve ridden it in California and really like the bike- it reminds me of riding my 250GP bikes. I’ve done well at Silverstone, it’s one of my favourite tracks,so think we can be competitive even though have had less track time than our competitors. Roll on August!”

FFX Yamaha's Andy Reid talks Motostar, AMA Motocross and the path to Grand Prix with PaddockChatter

Northern Ireland's Andy Reid has dominated this year's National Superstock600 championship on the FFX Yamaha R6, storming to 3 wins out of 5 races so far this season. The former Junior Motocross ace leads the championship standings going into the 6th round at Brands Hatch in a couple of days time by 37 points ahead of James Lodge.
Reid is the man to beat in STK600

Following a near two year sabbatical, Reid made a return to short circuit racing in the British Motostar Championship half way through the 2013 season at Brands Hatch on Ryan Saxelby's RS Racing Honda. Unfortunately it wasn't the return the number 67 had hoped for as he crashed out of the race. However, Reid finished the following round at Oulton Park 3rd overall, clinching the 125cc win and fastest lap in the process.

The 20 year old's impact on the series went from strength to strength most notably with an incredible second place finish to eventual Motostar championship winner, Joe Francis at Cadwell Park which saw the pair engage in a fierce head to head, or knee to fairing battle all the way to the finish line.

Despite another DNF in the next round at Donington Park and a disqualification at Assen, Reid continued to rake in the 125cc lap records, raise his profile as well as eyebrows within the BSB paddock. Particularly, Reid impressed both team boss at Milwaukee Yamaha, Shaun Muir, and Commercial Director at Milwaukee Tools, Dale McElveen. A deal was struck and Reid was racing a RS Racing 125cc Honda with Milwaukee stickers down the side panels for the final round at Brands Hatch, where once more, Reid demolished the lap record.

The relationship between both Reid and Milwaukee developed rapidly with the talented Irishman announcing toward the end of the 2013 season that he'd be taking the step up to the four-stroke 600cc stock class under FFX Yamaha colours - the sister team to Milwaukee Yamaha, alongside Ian Hutchinson riding the BSB Yamaha R1.

PaddockChatter caught up with Reid at Snetterton for a chat about his background, last year's Motostar championship, the Milwaukee deal and where he wants to be in a few years time. Since the interview, Reid took the round 5 win at Knockhill and has now become a fuelled by Xpresscoffee rider for the remainder of the season...

How did you get into racing?
I got my first motorbike for Christmas when I was 7 years old - a pee-wee 80 motocross bike. I rode that for a couple of months until March, after which I got a KX-65 and raced for two years on that before getting a KTM 65 to race in the British MX championships. I used to race Danny Buchan in those days, he was pretty quick on a crosser as he is on the road bike! I had a lot of fun racing on the dirt in those days.

14 July 2014

Marquez domination continues in Germany with pit lane start victory

The Marc Marquez reign continues. No matter what the circumstances, he appears to be well and truly unbeatable.
It's official: nothing can stop him.
Photo: Repsol Honda

Despite starting from the pit-lane at the Sachsenring circuit and as a result his pole position invalid, the Spaniard dominated the German Grand Prix making it 9 wins out of 9 races.

The heavens opened and threw down a massive rain shower before the race forcing all the riders to line up on the starting grid with a wet setup. However, the conditions soon dried up and after the warm-up lap over half of the riders came into the pits and changed to slicks. With a divided starting grid a battle of tyres, setups and conditions emerged.

It was Stefan Bradl who led his home race from the start line on a slick tyre-wet-setup-shod Honda with the remainder of the wet setup bikes following. In the pitline, 13 fire breathing MotoGP machines scrambled to get out onto the track first to hunt down the leaders. It looked as if Valentino Rossi was going to be the first man out but he was quickly overtaken by the tenacious Marquez.

As the track continued to dry, the slicks excelled with Marquez and the rest of the pack soon overtaking the leader Bradl and the proceeding Open class bikes. As a result, the German was forced to settle for 16th position come the chequered flag.

13 July 2014

Sachsenring Moto3 and Moto2 round-up Marvellous Miller and a first win for Aegerter

The rain stayed away for the support class races at the Sachsenring for the German Grand Prix weekend, with Moto3 out to play first on race day.
Winning joy again for Miller.
Photo: Ajo Motorsport

Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Jack Miller had ruled the weekend and after taking pole and lead the race from start to finish, fending off his challengers, first from Alex Marquez and then from his race companion out front, Brad Binder.

The Australian teenager remained in control and untroubled by his rivals as he took his fourth win, just his second from pole.

He also equalled an Australian record for wins in the lightweight class in one season, the last time an Australian scored four wins in a year was Tom Phillis in 1961, who went on to win the world title that year.

Brad Binder's second was his first ever podium finish and also the first for his team, Ambrogio Racing.

The battle behind the South African's Mahindra was tense with the experience of Alexis Masbou helping his Honda into third for Ongetta-Rivacold, giving him his second podium at the same track where he took his first and nudging Alex Marquez into fourth.

Danny Kent finished fifth, his best result since rejoining Moto3 on the Husqvarna after working hard to stay at the front of the field.

The SaxoPrint-RTG team had a great day at their home track after a poor showing in qualifying with Efren Vazquez rallying for sixth, just one place ahead of team-mate John McPhee in seventh, also his best result to date on a strong day for the Brits in the class. McPhee had qualified down in 28th.

Isaac Vinales took eighth for Team Calvo ahead of a best finish of ninth for Matteo Ferrari for San Carlo Team Italia. Aspar's Juanfran Guevara also made the top ten.

The remaining points went to Team Calvo's Jakub Kornfeil in 11th, top German Philipp Oettl in 12th for Interwetten, a seasons best first points scoring finish of the year for Arthur Sissis' Mahindra in 13th, the third Calvo bike of Eric Granado in 14th, with Enea Bastianini scooping up the final point despite a early crash for Junior Team Go&Fun.

Both Romano Fenati and Alex Rins' championship hopes took a blow courtesy of early crashes, Miller now leads the title hunt into the summer break by 19 points from Alex Marquez in second.

Moto2 saw a popular win for Dominique Aegerter as the Swiss rider won the drag to the line after a race long battle with Mika Kallio.

12 July 2014

Moto3 and Moto2 qualifying round-up: Miller back on top and Aegerter's first pole at a changeable Sachsenring.

With the qualifying sessions split by MotoGP, Moto3 and Moto2 enjoyed very different climates to qualify in after both classes saw the new best lap times set by the riders who would go on to take pole made earlier in the FP3 sessions.

Moto3 got the rain, with a shower halting any major progress in the final minutes and leaving Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Jack Miller clear on pole.

It is the championship leaders fifth pole of the season and the Australian teenager also makes it back-to-back poles after also securing the top spot at the last round in Assen.

Also benefiting from having been fast before the showers was Alexis Masbou, the Ongetta-Rivacold riders lap was also not to be beaten as the rain beat down and was 0.109 behind Miller's best of 1m26.997.

The final spot on the front row went to Assen winner Alex Marquez for Estrella Galicia 0,0.

Karel Hanika set a new best qualifying with his fourth place for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team just ahead of his Husqvarna labelled team-mate Danny Kent, who's dash as he noticed the weather change lead to a well timed fifth.

Sixth on the grid is filled by Ambrogio's Brad Binder, the highest qualifying Mahindra rider.

Alex Rins sits in seventh for Estrella Galicia, eighth is Eric Granando, equalling his best ever grid position, while the top ten is completed by Aspar's Juanfran Guevara and Go&Fun rider Enea Bastianini.

Philipp Oettl was the best placed home rider in 11th for Interwetten. The big losers in the weather change were the feverish Isaac Vinales in 16th, Miguel Oliveira;3rd in Assen; in 19th and the Saxoprint-RTG riders at their home round – Efren Vazquez and John Mcphee start 17th and 28th respectively despite a desperate effort to improve in the wet, especially by the Oban born rider.

Romano Fenati's qualifying disasters continued. He stood no chance of improving as his engine had needed changing after an FP3 failure and his electronics and forks were still being adjusted when the rain came, leaving the Sky Racing VR46 rider off the pace in 25th.

Moto2 saw the sun return and the most competitive qualifying the class has seen in a while.

Leading the way was Dominique Aegerter with his first pole position at his 77th attempt, matching his racing number.

Marquez blitzes Stoner’s record to take pole position at Sachsenring

Marc Marquez continued his flying form by grabbing his seventh pole position of the season and breaking records in the process under the German sunshine.
Nein from nine tomorrow? Copyright, Matt Birt.
Photo: Repsol Honda

The Sachsenring asphalt dried up ahead of GP qualifying and proved to be the perfect conditions for the ever-untouchable Spaniard to blitz Casey Stoner’s six-year old pole lap record with a stunning time of 1’20.937.

His teammate Dani Pedrosa was unable to complete Q2 unscathed when he suffered his second crash of the weekend at turn one just after he’d set his fastest lap, which puts him second on the grid for tomorrow’s race. Germany's Stefan Bradl qualified his LCR Honda in third position at his home round.

Pedrosa wasn’t the only rider who suffered spills in qualifying, Brits Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith both crashed out while on quick laps. Crutchlow was first to crash in Q1 with two minutes to go and sitting second in the standings. Unfortunately as a result he was unable to make it into the final qualifying session and will now start the race in 15th. Smith’s accident occurred seconds before Pedrosa’s in Q2 and the Tech 3 Yamaha rider will start in ninth place on the 3rd row of the grid. Meanwhile, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will start from 5th and 6th respectively behind Open Class Yamaha rider, Aleix Espargaro in 4th.

Marquez is confident he can convert his pole position into a win in tomorrow’s race and make it 9 wins from 9 races. He said: “Yes of course I’m confident for tomorrow. It was important that it was dry. With the first qualifying we had a small problem with a tyre but then with the second one everything was okay and then I felt good and I pushed and won the pole position. I think we have a good rhythm for tomorrow so everything looks perfect.”

A full list of results can be found here.

11 July 2014

Has our sport gone soft?

By Terry Hibberd

Has our sport gone soft? Or am I just an old man?

Look at them all, smiling and giggling. Bleugh.
Photo: YamahaMotoGP
As we all know the rivalry currently in MotoGP is Marc Marquez versus everyone else; it seems very friendly, no one is trying to rub the Spaniard up the wrong way and it seems sort of… Sterile. While seeing the mercurial no.93 winning at a canter (at the time of writing) every GP this season is record breaking and gripping, in a strange sense it’s also a little predictable and some may say it’s becoming a little boring. A little like the attitude towards Marquez’s predecessor, Casey Stoner’s reign at Repsol Honda who was no less talented.

Valentino Rossi’s playful gesture of throttling Marquez in Parc Ferme a few weeks ago suggests there is a little frustration in there but nothing seems close to boiling over. Not like the Italian’s previous spats with the likes of Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau when they ruffled the feathers of Rossi that ended up in heated arguments or fists being thrown in anger. Both times Vale took the title.

In BSB last season there was a fantastic end to the championship with Shane Byrne and Alex Lowes going head to head, which ultimately ended with Lowes taking the title, but there were ‘speedbumps’ on the way. Lowes of course punted off Byrne at Assen with an aggressive move which could have seriously injured the former MotoGP rider but did Byrne rage? No. It just fostered an intense on track rivalry which at its conclusion saw a both racers embracing in full view of the TV cameras and on looking crowd at Brands Hatch following the final race of the season. But it was a season long battle, something which didn’t really need any help from crossed words, the respect won the hearts of the public at home and at Brands Hatch on the final day.

Has our sport gone soft? Are we moving into the territory of the Junior School sports day where ‘Everyone’s a winner?’

Maybe you could say it is the case as heated exchanges seem have become a thing of the past but were commonplace for many a year in bike racing, the early nineties were littered with one rider trying to get beneath the surface of his opponent in any way possible. Carl Fogarty was a master at it, his attitude on and off the track became arguably fearsome but people stood up to it. Anyone remember Frankie Chili taking umbrage to the greatest World Superbike rider this country has seen by waving his fists at Foggy and the resulting scuffle being caught on camera in 1998 at Assen? And look who won the title.