Nov 16, 2014

Posted by in Bikes

Five Things About Moto2 in 2014

Five Things About Moto2 in 2014

So last week I wrote Five Things About Moto3 in 2014 so this week it might come as an unfathomable surprise that I have written about Moto2.  Five things about Moto2 in fact.  I know, you’re stunned right?  You’ll also be stunned by the sheer number of typos I’m guessing.

So, here goes.

1) Go pop the coffee on

There was a time when Moto2 was must see TV.  It was like club racing of the elite.  You never knew, even after qualifying, who might be on the podium.  Even during Marc Marquez’s championship year, in which he won nine races, the races themselves were still fierce battles down to the last corner more times than not.  This year, following the Moto3 podium, it signified that it was time to go pop the coffee pot.  Make a sandwich.  Do the shopping.  If you missed the start, or the middle, or the end, well, meh.

There was just no excitement this year.  Tito Rabat, and full credit to him, ran away with it.  Literally.  The races weren’t even close most of the time.  Maverick Vinales did well as a rookie but was inconsistent, as rookies tend to me.  Mika Kallio did what Mika Kallio does by being really good but not quite good enough to challenge for the title.  And then some other stuff happened I think.  I mean, really, who cares?541241

Harsh.  Maybe.  But I lost track of how many people, die hards like myself included, lost interest in Moto2 this year.

The question is why?  Was there just not enough depth of talent in the field this year?  Did no-one other than Marc VDS give a shit?  Are we seeing the problem with a control engine championship now?

Maybe the season just lacked a ‘personality’ this year.  No excitement machine like Marquez.  No Crazy Joe.  No ‘lad’ like Scott Redding.  No ‘toys out of the pram’ approach like Espagaro utilised from time to time.  There was Tito and Mika. Super professionals to be applauded, and admired, but not really to get excited about it.  In fact Kallio’s lack of excitement is really kind of exciting in itself.

I don’t know what the answer is, but one is needed.  Moto3 and Moto2 used to provide the perfect build up to the main event but now people just aren’t bothering with the second act.

2) Anthony West is one of the all time great wet weather riders

Up there with Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi, Randy Mamola, Chris Vermuelen and Christian Sarron.

West crosses the checkered flag in first positionHe says he doesn’t like riding in the wet but he has to be lying.  Surely?  Because, with the upmost of respect to Westy, when it’s dry, he’s running around mid pack at best.  That’s partly down to him, partly to his bike perhaps, but the fact remains when the rain comes down, and I’m talking biblical rain, Westy comes into his own.

In 125s, 250s, Moto2, MotoGP and Supersport.  When it rains, if Westy’s on the grid, he’s gonna factor into proceedings.  Put your house on it.

And at Assen this year, as it shat it down, eleven years after he last won a GP, Westy won it.  I mean, really.  Come on. You’re taking the piss right?

In a dull year for Moto2 Assen was one of the few races that threw up something completely unexpected and, with that, whether he likes it not, cemented Anthony West as one of the all time great wet weather grand prix riders.  He would only score points twice more in 2014 as if to reluctantly prove the point.

3) Maverick Vinales is really rather impressive

Class rookies not called Marquez have always had a tough time coming into Moto2.  Past 125 and Moto3 champions have struggled for anything that remotely resembled consistency, like Nico Terol, or even to get results at all, like Sandro Cortese.  So it was fair to think, given how close last year’s Moto3 championship was, the two graduates, Vinales and Luis Salom might battle mid pack together as they came to grips with 600cc.

Well Salom upheld his end of the bargain finishing 8th in the title and scoring the one podium.  Vinales on the other hand decided to do away with tradition and stick it right up those that suggested his Moto3 championship was a bit of an undeserved fluke.  For the record, no-one has ever fluked a world championship and if you ever hear anyone saying otherwise it is actually perfectly legal to headbutt them in the face.GRA093-MONTMELO-BARCELONA-15-0_54409971696_54115221152_960_640

Vinales won 4 races, added four other podiums, and finished in the top ten in every race he finished.  He only failed to finish twice and ended up third in the championship.  There’s no overstating just how impressive a feat that is.

Yes, there were some rookie mistakes none more so than his torpedoing of Kallio in Valenica but then, with a healthy dose of his newfound maturity and a fair dose of humility, he didn’t strop, he headed to the Marc VDS pit, red faced and apologetic.  Overall he showed incredible maturity and speed of learning this year.  He won second time out let’s not forget.

It wasn’t that long ago that Maverick had an A grade tantrum in the fly away races during his 125cc days and literally left the paddock to, essentially, sulk.  In a weird way, he needed that.  The Spanish media had told him he was infallible, the chosen one.  His name was Maverick after all.

But he seemed to grow up an awful lot, awfully quickly after that.  He returned remorseful, learned and more determined. He turned it into race wins and a title and now a factory ride with Suzuki in MotoGP.  He might not be the ‘next Marquez’ but he’s as good as anyone else that’s entered MotoGP in the last few years for my money.

4) Money is tight.  Like, really tight.

People are paying for rides, left right and centre.  Teams can’t pay the bills.  There’s bugger all sponsorship out there either it seems.  And no class seems to be hit harder than Moto2.  It doesn’t have the glamour of the premier class or the young studs like Moto3.  It has Marc VDS and the personality of Mika Kallio.

So what do we do about it?  Does Dorna step in and prop it up again?  Are sponsors just not interested in the class itself?

There’s a lot of money problems in motorcycle racing in general at the moment and David Emmett wrote wonderfully on it recently and Moto2 is a class that it seems to be hitting pretty hard.

IMG_5682_homeSam Lowes’ bike changed colour every other week.  Jonas Folger was getting good results on a bike that looked like a Valencia test edition it was so devoid of sponsors.  Even Marc VDS, who ran away with the class, lacked a sponsor beyond the bankroll of Marc van der Straten himself although they did announce a deal with Estrella Galicia for next season although one has to assume the fact they are moving into MotoGP next year had a lot to do with that.  WOuld they have landed that money if it was still just Moto2?  Even with Tito Rabat hanging around as the first man to try and defend a Moto2 title?  Personally, I doubt it.

So, where does the money come from?  I dunno.  There’s a finite amount of sponsorship money and a middle tier, increasingly dull middle class series isn’t where people want to invest it funnily enough.

I’m genuinely concerned, and intrigued, about the future of Moto2.  One thing is clear, something has to change.  Be that the end of spec Honda engines, new regulations or perhaps even just the arrival of another Marquez, Alex the younger.

But it’s a major concern for Moto2 when the intrigue and interest, at least to my mind, lies off the track and not on it.

5) Moto2 was so damn tedious this year it doesn’t warrant five things. 

Yeah, I said it.

So there you go.  Next week it’ll be MotoGP and I dunno how I’m gonna keep it to just five things…

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  1. They should return to calling (at least moto2 and moto3) by the engine displacement. It brand’s them as different classes, that are all more worth being a part of individually as a rider and sponsor. The moto2 and moto3 nomenclature make’s them out to be more like levels (which they are, but might benefit from pretending they aren’t) that need to be (or not in some riders cases) graduated through to make the big show.

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