Author Topic: Rossi: "The 500 was the perfect race bike"  (Read 1217 times)

Offline Chris

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Rossi: "The 500 was the perfect race bike"
« on: December 23, 2013, 09:20:59 am »
accessed at http:/www.motor-total.com
translated from German

Chris

(begin interview)
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Rossi: "The 500 was the perfect race bike"
by Sebastian Fränzschky
19 December 2013 - 10:21 clock

The MotoGP veteran says of the two-cycle times and the magical feeling of walking with a snappy 500cc machine to the limit.


(Motor-Total.com) - MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi is one of the endangered species of the racers that came up in the three classes of two-strokes to the MotoGP four-stroke engine. The entertaining Italian  debuted in the 1996 season and captured with his loose style the hearts of the fans. In his second season Rossi took the world 125cc title. The following year, he joined the 250cc class as the reigning 125cc World Champion  and rode immediately at the top.

"The 250 was a great race bike. I liked the 250 a lot, because the balance between weight and performance was perfect," says Rossi, who was 1999 World champion on an Aprilia RS250. After four years and two world titles Rossi got into the premier class in 2000 and sat in his first 500cc season on a factory Honda. At the beginning the public's favorite crashed often. At the end of the season Rossi was behind Kenny Roberts Jr. and Vice World Champion after all.

"The 250 was a great bike, but the 500 was the perfect race bike," Rossi notes.  He won the 2001 world championship. Although Rossi was sitting on the 500 two-stroke machine for only two years, he has the motorcycle close in his heart. In particular, the brutality and the ease fascinate the nine-time world champion.

"The danger in the 500s is that everything seems to be totally easy, but the next moment you will be catapulted into the sky," remarked the former Honda rider. "The bike can be fairly easy to ride. It is very easy. It's about that last half a second. To find them, you have to get on the throttle early and be prepared for the immediate and hard power output. "

"You should not be leaned over too much when the power is applied to the rear wheel," Rossi adds. Although the Italian is a big fan of two-stroke machines, he has made friends with the new four-stroke classes. While many experts criticize the Moto2 and Moto3, Rossi admits to being a fan of the new junior classes and sees in the two classes good educational facilities for young racers.

"When the Moto2 debut, all the people were very worried. They said that these bikes would not be not so good for the development of young drivers" the factory Yamaha pilot recalls. "But in recent years it has been found that the Moto2's are great. I like this series very much. The motorcycles are good. Stefan Bradl and Marc Marquez come from the Moto2 and are strong."

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(end interview)

I don't know if Rossi is right about riding the 500's.  When Colin Edwards told Eddie Lawson he wished he could have ridden the 500's Lawson said they were crap and the bikes now are better in every way.  But I do know that for me  the 500cc race bikes were a lot more exciting to watch.

What do you guys think?  Were the 500cc bikes more exciting?
« Last Edit: December 23, 2013, 09:29:13 am by Chris »
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Offline emd513

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Re:
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2013, 04:32:19 pm »
Haven't watched them. As I dont have cable only Netflix and those a#% holes dont think I would like to watch anything to do with motorcycles. Smfh. Did watch the fastest documentary on Rossi. Not sure you can base any class being greatest if he's riding. The man is an absolute master at the sport. Hell injured from his wreck that snapped his leg bone through the skin and damaged his shoulder he was still able to be the winners fastest lap of superbike racing testing the bike out. Who does that. Just amazing. So in his eyes yeah I could see how he thinks the 500 is the best for his riding style and skill

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Offline Curtie223

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Re: Rossi: "The 500 was the perfect race bike"
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2013, 04:33:59 am »
I love the racing in the 4strokes. But there seamed to be a lot more battles with the 2strokes. Everyone was about on par with each other.  Now with fuel injection, computers ect there is a pretty large gap between bikes.


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Offline Chris

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Re: Rossi: "The 500 was the perfect race bike"
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2013, 01:59:54 pm »
I love the racing in the 4strokes. But there seamed to be a lot more battles with the 2strokes. Everyone was about on par with each other.  Now with fuel injection, computers ect there is a pretty large gap between bikes.

I think you're right Curt.  I think that during the 500cc era a great rider could win even on an inferior bike.  Now, with the dependence on rider aids it seems a single bike can become dominant.   Is that because the electronics are great at leveling the playing field as to the skills needed?  Maybe.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2013, 02:00:52 pm by Chris »
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Offline 8Ball

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Re: Rossi: "The 500 was the perfect race bike"
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2013, 08:21:42 pm »
Honestly, in the 500 2 stroke era, there were only a few good battles, and usually for a few laps.  Nostalgia has changed reality.  There were a couple of years (actually one year, really) when Rainey and Shwantz went at it hard. But the reality was that lapped traffic was normal at almost every round, and the winner was likely to lead by 10-15 seconds at the end of the race.  There were a few years before 1992 that there was more than two or three riders that were capable of finishing on the top step, but even then, the leaders were usually spread out pretty well.


...and don't get me started on how boring the Doohan years got.  (and I was a huge fan of his)
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Offline Chris

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Re: Rossi: "The 500 was the perfect race bike"
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2013, 05:35:08 am »
Butch,

I respectfully disagree about the 2 stroke era being less competitive and I think I can prove my point.  For me the peak years were from the advent of 2 stroke dominance, 1974, to the beginning of the Doohan era because, like yourself I found the five year dominance by Doohan and Honda kind of boring.  But then, the Rossi dominance of recent years was pretty one sided too. My contention is that during the period I chose as the peak more riders had a real chance at winning the championship than either before or after.

So, yes, both Rossi on Honda and Yamaha in recent years and Doohan on Honda in the mid 90's were dominant and were winning most of their races.  But that was nothing compared to the dominance of MV Agusta from the mid 50s to mid 70s. During those 20 years you pretty much had to be the factory MV rider to hope to win the Championship.  Surtees, Hailwood, Read, and especially Agostini rode the red Italian bikes to become GP legends.

During the period I identify as the peak (1974-1994) 12 different riders won the 500cc World Championship on bikes from four different manufacturers.  During that period no rider managed to achieve more than three championships back to back.  By comparison, in the nineteen years since only 8 riders have become champions. And since we all know how dominant Rossi was in his prime, with a record only eclipsed by Agostini's, I'm actually surprised there were that many.

So...to recap:

1954-1973:  6 riders from 3 nations on two manufacturers win the championship
1974-1994:  12 riders from 4 nations on four manufacturers win the championship
1995-2013:  8 riders from 5 nations on four manufacturers win the championship

(You can check here to confirm my data:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_500cc/MotoGP_Motorcycle_World_Champions)

Here are some examples from the peak years:


The '79 British GP...Roberts vs. Sheene ...Suzuki vs. Yamaha.  One of the best rider duels in Moto GP history I think and I also think it was Sheene's finest ride.  Think Rossi vs. Stoner at Laguna Seca in '07 to get a sense of just how hard these two were riding. Watch the Dutch rider Hartog too.  I had been at the German GP earlier in the year and he had won that one pretty convincingly.  And the great thing about this race was that I was in Britain on a motorcycling holiday and was camping in a campground on the outskirts of London.  Great Race...Great holiday...a month later we knew the wife was pregnant.  (You guys know the result of that as IanC on this forum. :)  Feel free to tell him he was Made in England.)

Fun things to watch for while viewing this race:  Sheene flipping Roberts off and getting passed for his impudence...Valentino Rossi's and Carl Fogarty's dads are in the race.  Roberts bike had blown a seal on the starting grid and soaked Roberts in oil.  He struggles with his hand slipping on the throttle throughout the race and you can see him on the cool down lap shaking his arm and hand after the strain.


1979 500cc British GP Part 1



1979 500cc British GP Part 2



1979 500cc British GP Part 3



1979 500cc British GP Part 4



1979 500cc British GP Part 5





I think, along with a lot of long time GP observers, that the 1983 season was the hardest fought and most thrilling of them all.  Roberts vs. Spencer wasn't just racing...it was war.  But while we remember their great rivalry it's easy to forget that they were shadowed every step of the way by Mamola who was riding the wheels off an uncompetitive Suzuki and a young Californian named Lawson in his debut GP year.  Here's two races from that year that show how close the racing was between Spencer and Roberts and also how dangerous racing was in those days.


1983 500cc British GP Part 1



This race was stopped after six laps when Swiss rider Peter Huber (Suzuki # 46),at race speed ran into the rear of Irish rider Norman Brown (Suzuki # 42) who was slowly making his way back to the pits after a mechanical problem at Stowe corner. Both riders died instantly when their helmets came off in a horrific accident. Confusion resulted when  crossed oil flag and caution flags were displayed, the British flag signal which meant race was stopped, which the British riders recognized as stop. But the American riders were not familiar with this flag display, because in America a red flag was displayed for a race to be stopped, These days, the red flag signal means STOP at any racing event in the world. The race was rerun two hours later with the winner determined on aggregate results.

I was at this race and remember it seemed that all the top riders (on three different makes) could have won,

1983 500cc British GP Part 2



1983 500cc Dutch TT



The reigning World Champion, Franco Uncini, was injured in another accident involving a lost helmet.  After a long time in a coma Uncini returned to racing the next season but was never competitive again and retired after the 1985 season.


There's a lot to like about the current 4 stroke era.  I particularly applaud the vast improvements in riders safety.  These days it's thankfully very rare for a MotoGP rider to die on the track during a race. But Dorna has engineered a system where the majority of riders on the race grids are set dressing for the four full factory works riders who can actually win.  Does anyone actually think the CRT bikes are anything but a way to keep the race grids full for better TV coverage? 

Over the next few years the winning bikes at every race will be a Honda or Yamaha with a Spanish rider.  It's good racing, but the era of many riders from many different nations on different makes of bikes having a chance at the championship may well be over, at least for the foreseeable future.

Chris
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 06:59:21 am by Chris »
CHRIS
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