SportMotoGPWhy wild card riders no longer win in MotoGP

Why wild card riders no longer win in MotoGP

MotoGP fans will probably never forget October 29, 2006. That day was not only the last race of the 990cc era, where Valentino Rossi lost what would be his sixth title when he crashed and Nicky Hayden became world champion. .

Troy Bayliss took the win that day. The Australian’s MotoGP career was over. After two years in the official Ducati team (2003 and 2004) and a failed season with Sito Pons and Honda (2005), the Aussie returned to WorldSBK in 2006 and won his second title with the 999R of the Borgo Panigale brand.

Ducati had to look for a replacement for the injured Sete Gibernau in the last race of the season in Valencia and called up Bayliss. Starting from second on the grid, the superbike champion made history.

Six-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea is convinced that this will not happen again in the future. “Bayliss was the most beautiful story. It will never be repeated. At least I can’t imagine it,” Rea said in an interview with Motorsport.com.

“In the past there were wild cards in MotoGP or 500cc, like in Japan. Those riders were sometimes very strong and achieved good results. But now it’s more difficult,” says Rea. “You can’t get on a bike like that and be in the front.”

Changes in MotoGP

In 2012 , Rea himself had the opportunity to race in MotoGP. When Casey Stoner was injured, the Briton replaced him at the Repsol Honda team. After a test in Brno, he got on the RC213V in Misano and Aragon. He finished both races in the top eight.

“Then I was about 30 seconds behind and I finished seventh. Today, 30 seconds is too much,” compares Rea. “The difference between first and last is very small. The rules are very good, all manufacturers can be fast. It’s not like 10 years ago, when you were 30 seconds away from the top 10. Today, if you are 30 seconds, you are last.

Jonathan Rea, Repsol Honda Team

Jonathan Rea, Repsol Honda Team

The good results of the guests are much more difficult

Ben Spies and Cal Crutchlow were the last riders with a WorldSBK background to win MotoGP races. Eugene Laverty and Loris Baz achieved respectable results with inferior material. Alex Lowes (2016), Michael van der Mark (2017) or Garrett Gerloff (2021) struggled to get into the points when they had their chance.

“MotoGP is now at a very high level,” says Rea. “You just have to look at what Crutchlow did [in 2021]. Even if you’ve only been out a few races and then you come back, it’s quite difficult.

Bridgestone front tire

“The tires are an important factor. The front Bridgestone behaved very strangely. The bikes are also very different,” recalls Rea.

According to the Northern Irishman, Marc Márquez’s results last season are another example of his high level.

“Márquez missed most of the 2020 season and came back in 2021. It was quite difficult for him,” he says.

Unlike in the past, no bike guarantees good results, as was the case 10 or 15 years ago. “The bikes are technically closer. In addition, the satellite teams are now very well supported by the factories,” #65 analyzes.

“On a good day you win and then difficult moments can come, as the example of Miguel Oliveira shows. In MotoGP today it is easy to have a bad weekend and finish outside the top 10. MotoGP is in a golden age. Everything is very close You can’t afford to have a bad weekend when you’re fighting for the title,” he explains.

Dorna’s efforts pay off

Championship organiser, Dorna, established a strong framework of rules and smart measures a few years ago, such as concessions or the introduction of single electronics (ECU), which have helped to equalize the manufacturers.

Centralita de Magneti Marelli

Magneti Marelli switchboard

“The engineers and the manufacturers are to be congratulated. The unique ECU and the constant standards for many years have allowed the manufacturers to improve their bikes,” says Rea. “Because they are prototypes, they have more possibilities than in WorldSBK, for example. Our bikes are based on series models and the rules are there to help the bikes live up to it.”

The chances of seeing Rea in MotoGP in the future have been diminishing in recent years as he never received a good offer preferring to stick with Kawasaki . However, the promising new world champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu, could make the leap in 2023.

(Click on this link or on the photo to see the riders who have won races in MotoGP and SBK)

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