Flutterby™! : Things on two wheels

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Things on two wheels

2009-06-18 02:34:55.651179+00 by Dan Lyke 17 comments

Jeff forwarded around this video of the last 3 laps of MotoGP 2009 Round 6 in Catalunya. I'm not much of a motorsports guy, but an amazing show of skill and different riding styles as Lorenzo battles Rossi for the lead, with some spectacular passing. "Oh mama mia mama mia mama mia" indeed.

Shadow sent two drunk guys trying to move a log with a bicycle. The exact opposite.

[ related topics: Movies Pedal Power Video Bicycling ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-18 03:02:44.605124+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

As I've said elsewhere about this race, look at how close Rossi and Lorenzo are riding, and realize these guys are flying at around 200mph, and this sort of skill and control has got to leave your mouth hanging open.

Dan, I've got one spare set of tickets for the MotoGP race event at Laguna Seca in Monterey July 3-5, you interested? Trust me, it's a complete *blast*.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-18 03:33:00.044201+00 by: Dan Lyke

Alas I'm committed that weekend. Damn.

But I do want to go to one of those races sometime soon.

What really amazed me about that race was that Lorenzo seemed to be riding the faster machine, he caught up handily on the straightaways, and he's clearly no slouch rider, but Rossi was doing things on those curves that defied friction, and that last pass on the outside was amazing.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-18 04:28:37.823358+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Many thanks to Diane for originally sharing some video clips of this race which were later removed from YouTube for copyright violations. Enjoy this one while you still can. It's an epic battle, one of the best I've ever seen at any level. Truly one for the ages.

Italian Valentino Rossi is a legend in the sport of MotoGP racing, arguably the best MotoGP racer ever. Jorge Lorenzo is a young up-and-and-coming Spanish rider (he's only 22), and an amazing talent in his own right. Peruse this link for a history of MotoGP. Here is the official MotoGP website.

Rossi and Lorenzo race for the same team (Fiat/Yamaha), so their bikes should be roughly equal in straight-line performance and also handling. Aerodynamics are incredibly poor on a motorcycle (compared to cars), so drafting down the straights is a bigger factor when passing. There were a number of passes made by drafting in this race (and by more effective braking at the end of the straights), but the more exciting passes were made entering and exiting the turns. The moxy of these riders at this level is beyond comprehension at times. The lean angles are also amazing at these speeds. And it's not physically easy to whip a 400-lb missile around like that near the end of a 25 lap race.

Similar to Formula I racing, these machines are one-of-a-kind manufacturer designs which define the zenith of the sport. For safety reasons, engine displacements were recently reduced from 990cc to 800cc, yet engine output still approaches 240hp at the rear wheel, yielding top speeds over 200mph. Getting all of that horsepower to the ground with a contact patch barely the size of a human hand is truly astounding, reflective of the enormous skills of these riders.

Mama Mia! Bravo Valentino Rossi!

#Comment Re: MotoGP Eye Candy.. made: 2009-06-18 12:16:04.134866+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Some additional MotoGP eye candy found here, including this leaning image of Tony Elias:

Not to be overlooked in this race was the performance of Ducati rider Casey Stoner, who finished on the podium in 3rd place, overcoming weakness and nausea before the action even started. The Aussie, who won the MotoGP overall championship in 2007, is now tied for the 2009 series lead with Rossi and Lorenzo, each with 106 points. The last American to win the title was Kentuckian Nicky Hayden, who did so in dramatic fashion in 2006, overtaking Rossi, who crashed out in the final race that season. Mama Mia!

Laguna Seca should be a blast indeed. Diane, you lucky girl. We want a full report! It's somewhat ironic that I'll be teaching a class in Sacramento Monday and Tuesday the following week, but I don't think that I'll be able to get away for that 4th of July weekend.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-18 12:27:34.106919+00 by: topspin

These guys appear to touch at about 3:40 in the video and perhaps again very near the finish, about 5:02.

Forget about the displacement of the engines, the cojone displacement is stunning.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-18 15:04:39.292875+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Comparisons are often made with Formula I racing (the horsepower to weight ratios and the track layouts are somewhat similar), but the real challenge for MotoGP riders is getting all of that horsepower transferred to the ground, and still be able to effectively brake entering the tight esses and curves. All on only two wheels. Formula I cars have (TEN) times the usuable tire contact surface to play with, by comparison.

Michael Schumacher, one of the world greats in Formula I racing history, once had thoughts about trying MotoGP racing, but he could never get quite up to speed. The fact that his lap times were only a few seconds behind riders at this top level is a testament to his overall racing acumen. A few seconds lost per lap is an eternity in this sport, however. Here is a video of Schumacher going for test ride as a passenger with Randy Mamola at the helm of a Ducati MotoGP bike (modified to carry two passengers) at the Mugello circuit in 2006. Fast forward to the 3-minute mark to see the real fun. That must have been one thrilling ride! Mama Mia!

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-18 23:23:10.410413+00 by: Diane Reese

Jeff, I've still got that set of passes, including Turn 11 seats Sat/Sun, if you can be enticed at all.... but you'll have to let me know fast before I put them up on craigslist.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-18 23:26:29.511808+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

Viewers should also note that Casey Stoner crossed the line for third just microseconds (0.052) ahead of the fourth-place finisher, Andrea Dovizioso (who is himself just 23). That after 25 laps they're still that close: well, it's an amazing sport.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-18 23:54:38.439867+00 by: Dan Lyke

Diane, I think that speaks to Jeff's point about drafting: If they're close they're going to be microseconds close because passing and pulling away involves getting far enough ahead that the other person loses all aerodynamic advantage. Being within even several bike lengths of the vehicle in front of you gives a substantial power advantage over the lead motorcycle, so as long as you can stay in the draft you've got a much better chance of keeping up with them even if you're dropping back a little in the curves.

Jeff's out there in one of those more eastern states, so I doubt we could pull him back for just one race, but ya never know...

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-19 00:56:02.839626+00 by: jeff

That last pass made by Rossi has the entire motorcycle racing Internet world buzzing. How did he do it? Obviously, there was a little bit of draft available, but not enough to essentially wharp past Lorenzo. Did Lorenzo miss a shift, or did Rossi find a different gear and get on the power sooner? As part of the same team, they have essentially identical bikes. Lorenzo may have left a bit of an opening, but it was still one of the best passes ever made near the end of a race. I'm still shaking my head.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-24 18:31:29.760925+00 by: Diane Reese

And to close the circle somewhat, and whet some appetites for future races (*cough*Dan*cough*), I should note here that Jeff has been talked into coming to the MotoGP race at Laguna Seca with my group in a couple more weekends. It wasn't such a difficult sell, just a small matter of logistics. (I surely hope you're planning to take some of your excellent photos, Jeff!)

#Comment Re: An Easy Sell made: 2009-06-25 14:04:40.811429+00 by: jeff

As Diane mentioned, it was an easy sell. I just had to workout some details with my employer and turn this event into a full week of vacation. Thanks Diane!

I'm a huge fan of MotoGP, but have never been to an actual race in person. There are only two venues in the series in America: Laguna Seca (re-started in 2005) and Indianapolis (started in 2008). Indy is obviously much closer to Columbus, but I've already been to that track a number of times for other events. This will be my first trip to Laguna Seca.

On a somewhat related motorsports note, this image of mine goes on the newstands today:

Sorry, sponsoring and photographing Team Localriders.com is nowhere near the level of MotoGP racing!

#Comment Re: On Any Sunday made: 2009-06-26 12:08:58.271861+00 by: jeff

A friend just posted a link for online viewing of the film "On Any Sunday."

I have seen this film before, but it's been a very long time. It has special appeal to me, as I was riding small dirtbikes at the time it was made. Loved seeing all of the CZs, Huskys, Maicos, Pentons, etc. in some of the racing scenes. I watched it again in its entirety last night.

The film brought to light how anemic suspensions were in those days, and how good some of the riders were, most notably, Malcolm Smith. His versatility was absolutely amazing. And for those of you who didn't know it, Steve McQueen was actually a VERY GOOD motorcycle rider, competing and doing well at national motocross and other events in his early days. There is some great footage of him.

The work was nominated for an Academy Award in 1972 for best documentary feature. It accurately covers most aspects of motorcycle racing of the day: motocross, enduro, road racing, hill climb, flat track, trials, desert endurance, etc. The film is often credited as the best and/or the most important motorcycle documentary ever made. And the opening scene is said to have started the BMX craze across North America.

A "must view," regardless of whether you own a motorcycle or not.

#Comment Re: Rossi again... made: 2009-06-29 02:32:10.324293+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Rossi was on the podium again, capturing his 100th career Grand Prix victory this past weekend at Assen. The man is simply amazing. Lorenzo was again second, and a weakened Casey Stoner completed the podium, despite recurring medical issues. American Colin Edwards was six seconds off Stoner's pace, finishing in 4th position, while fellow American Nicky Hayden finished in the middle of the pack (but is showing some encouraging signs of returning to his earlier form of a couple of years ago).

Bring on Monterey and the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca next weekend!

#Comment Re: made: 2009-07-01 19:04:21.198053+00 by: Diane Reese

Two days until Jeff and I get to meet, and we get to enjoy what should be a really really fine July 4th weekend at the races! Bring it on! (I'll tentatively promise photos afterwards... ya think, Jeff? :-)

#Comment Re: made: 2009-07-01 21:44:34.504337+00 by: jeff

Debby and I are really looking forward to meet you and your group, Diane. And the weather, while looking a bit on the cool side from an Ohio-summer-perspective, is apparently going to be sunny all weekend long!

Dan--while I wish we could travel to your area via two wheels, I'm afraid that this trip will be of the standard four-wheel-vehicle rental variety.

#Comment Re: What will they try next? made: 2009-07-02 19:56:52.936542+00 by: jeff

Look for more deaths to occur as these events reach new heights of craziness?