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FinSting

MotoGP is a fun sport

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Ya'll ever look at MotoGP? For years now it's been the most exciting form of motorsports around. It's basically prototype motorcycle road racing where you have both straights and curves and hard braking, with the word 'prototype' meaning these bikes are full-on laboratory specimens where the engineers can do whatever they want (within the rulebook) and the machine doesn't relate at all to any street-legal bikes.Just let the mad scientists run wild and see what happens on two wheels. 

In the race a couple weeks ago, a guy was in 1st place. Then he was wiped out by a guy passing others like a bowling ball hitting pins, and before you knew it four bikes were on the ground instantly. Good times. 

Before that, a guy hit 221 mph on the front straight in Misano Italy, which is a new top-speed record for road-racing motorcycles. Thankfully he was tucked-in, holding an aerodynamic position, otherwise the wind pressure might have torn his face off. 

There are so many passes and re-passes in MotoGP, most of the races get the heart rate up. Full disclosure, not all races are amazing, sometimes a rider and team meshes so well they kick everyone's butt on Sunday. Hey nothing is perfect. 

Motorsports is llke any other sport, it's more interesting when you study the rules and try to comprehend the strategy. But still, MotoGP is just plain different, there are no pit stops, you don't come in for tires or fuel, there is no communication between the race team and the rider other than a hand-held sign that often has the message 'go faster someone is getting closer' as if they needed to know that. They practice on Friday, qualify on Saturday to set the grid position, then race on Sunday. At any point during those three days, the weather might change which throws all their previously gathered data into chaos. 

The science/excitement factor of this MotoGP sport is mind-boggling. The rider is so important, a huge part of the equation. Usually in motorsports, the race machine and technology behind it is most important. In MotoGP that's still true to a point, yet a great rider can use his body weight, his riding style, his race craft, and make a difference. Dude hangs off the bike like a monkey reaching 65 degrees of lean angle, with his knee and sometimes his elbow dragging the ground through the corners. Not for show, it's science stuff about physics and geometry and grip and centrifugal force. On the straights they worry about downforce because the engines are so powerful there's no way to open the throttle without the motorcycle doing a wheelie. Aerodynamic wings attached to the bike can help create downforce to reduce wheelies but it's just a small wings, nothing like an open-wheeled race car. 

From the moment dudes get the bike unloaded on Friday til the race happens on Sunday, a whole army of technicians work with the rider to try and understand how to get around the track as fast as possible without chewing up the tires. Which is extra-confusing because there are various types of tires available to choose from. Some guys like super-hard braking so they will choose a diamond-hard front tire that doesn't squish and deform. Some guys like medium braking so they choose a medium tire that might be half-decent for braking but still has soft sticky grip in the corners. Some guys are tall and heavy, some are short and lightweight. The team that solves these issues the best on Fri-Sat is often the team that performs well on Sunday.

But not always. And that's the attraction! Some dudes are playing possum on Fri-Sat, setting laptimes that don't look great but that's because they have gone All-In for the actual race on Sunday, and constantly working Fri-Sat for a Sunday race setup. They might start the race in 8th or 10th but after a few laps they are battling for the lead, which confuses the heck out of everyone that qualified faster. 

This sport is most popular in Europe, especially Spain and Italy. A MotoGP racer could not walk down the street in Spain without being mobbed for autographs or selfies. Here in the States, ehh MotoGP is a fringe sport. Just the way things are, different countries like different things, and there ain't nothing wrong with that. 

Next race is this weekend in Assen, Holland. A flowing track where high-speed corners rule, nicknamed 'The Cathedral of Speed' as it's been on the motorcycling racing calendar since the 1920's or something (no races during 1940-45, think there was a distracting war). 

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