Tag Archives: Motorsport

Thrilling race video from Summer Night Series

Australia’s first smart-helmet manufacturer, Forcite, has created an exciting cockpit-view race video filmed with their clever helmet.

Filmed in collaboration with Cam Elkins of Stories of Bike, Under Lights features the amateur racing event – The Summer Night Series.

Forcite spokesman Charlie Stack says it is a short story that explores the tight-knit community and culture that has formed around Australia’s newest and most exciting race series. 

It is hosted by St George Motorcycle Club over four rounds under the state of the art Floodlight installation at Sydney Motorsport Park.

“St George Motorcycle Club started the series two seasons ago in an effort to bring something fresh and exciting to an otherwise stagnant Australian amateur motorcycle racing scene,” Charlie says. 

“Driven forward by a raft of dedicated organisers, volunteers, and competitors, the series is quickly becoming a crowd favourite for Sydney based spectators, and the club hopes to grow the event in the upcoming season and beyond.

Also showcased is Forcite-sponsored rider Aidan Hayes with his Forcite helmet providing a unique cockpit view of the close racing.

He battles his way through the field from a pit lane start to end in a photo finish, separated from a fellow rider by mere centimetres.

Forcite has launched a public equity crowdfunding campaign through Equitise to build more varieties of their MK1 helmets and expand into the world market.

The cashed-up company has already attracted funding from Atlas Advisors Australia, bringing their combined post-sales funding to $8 million.

Forcite smart helmet

The MK1 helmet features Forcite’s patented RAYDAR helmet system, combining Formula 1 LED technology, audio interactivity, military-grade camera recording and a fingertip handlebar controller.

Click here for more details.

Forcite’s smart helmet is designed to deliver road alerts and visual and audio turn-by-turn navigation without a phone, enabling riders to see or predict things before they happen to avoid danger.

It also automatically records dashcam footage of multiple lanes without distracting the rider.

All the technology is incorporated into the helmet without the need for an externally mounted device.

Forcite Chief Executive Officer Alfred Boyadgis claims the helmet’s technology which warns of road hazards with flashing lights, can reduce the number of accidents and save lives.

The Sydney based motorcycle technology company aims to provide a safer, more dynamic motorcycling experience with it’s Forcite MK1 smart motorcycle helmet. The world’s first ECE 22.05 approved smart helmet has rapidly sold out every time it has been available.

Now, 1380 riders are using the Forcite MK1 on the road and track with 14,000 more registering their interest to buy.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Is this our next MotoGP champion?

Fresh-faced teenager James Weaver has been chosen by computer data to compete in the 2022 Oceania Junior Cup (OJC), the official Road to MotoGP series for young Aussie road racers.

The 13-year-old NSW Central Coast rider was chosen via a world-first method developed by motoDNA whose Digital Academy technology is used to analyse and coach riders.

MotoDNA motoCHAMPION James Weaver

Riders from around the nation were invited by motoDNA last year to compete in the first motoCHAMPION competition for the coveted prize of a $10,000 fully sponsored ride in the 2022 OJC.

MotoDNA boss Mark McVeigh says the Cup runs alongside the Australian Superbike Championship.

“If James wins the Oceania Junior Cup he gets placement to the Asia Talent Cup, the next step to MotoGP,” he says.

James is a passionate rider/racer competing from the age of five and would like to race at the highest level, like his idol and fellow central coast rider Casey Stoner.

At the age of 11, James was selected for the Oceania Junior Cup and competed in the support class to the World Superbike at Phillip Island.

He was only 12 when he won the junior North Coast Road Racing Series.

Now he is the world’s first rider to be chosen to race via a data-driven digital championship developed by motoDNA and sponsored by Bendix brakes.

James being followed by his coach

Aussie racers from 11 years old took part in the motoCHAMPION competition at racetracks and go-kart circuits around Australia using bike-mounted GoPro cameras. 

Data from the GoPros and sensors on the bike allowed motoDNA to use their unique propriety algorithms to measure a rider’s skill level, rather than their lap time.

It meant racers could compete against even though they were on different tracks. 

The motoDNA algorithms measure and grade the riders enabling leaderboards to be created for any riding skill such as throttle, braking and steering. 

Throughout the competition the leaderboard changed back and forth between James, Cameron Swain and Hudson Thompson with James winning by a whisker from Cameron, the 2021 bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup Champ who is moving up a class for 2022. 

MotoDNA CEO Mark McVeigh says they have been supporting young Australian riders for more than 10 years and he wished James good luck in the 2022 OJC.

motoDNA Mark McVeigh Riders Briefing
Mark McVeigh at a motoDNA riders briefing

“Our team is also pleased with how our new digital platform performed technically,” he says. 

“If the riders all lined up to race each other at the same event they would finish in the same order. 

“That’s pretty cool and now positions motoDNA to expand to other series in Australia and overseas. We also learnt heaps, refining our algorithms performance and customer experience. “

The motoCHAMPION was launched in partnership with Motorcycling Australia, who develop riders through the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup (OJC) and the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK). 

Motorcycling Australia CEO Peter Doyle says the OJC Academy is designed to open a pathway into junior road racing and, through its development academy format, lift our youngest motorcycling talent through national competition and set them on a path to international success. 

“Developing and facilitating our next generation of riders is a key focus for Motorcycling Australia,” he says. 

“We’re excited to be a part of motoCHAMPION in partnership with motoDNA which provides riders with an additional tool in their tool kit to further develop their riding technique and skills.” 

Apart from James’s sponsored place in the OJC, the next four motoCHAMPION riders will earn an automatic place in the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup selection event where they will have the chance to qualify for the 2022 season. 

The motoCHAMPION event is sponsored by Bendix which is now taking its stopping expertise to the two-wheeled category says company GM George Kyriakopoulos. 

Motorcycle riders will gradually see Bendix brake product become available for their bikes in the Australian market and also see an increased presence of the Bendix brand in the two-wheeled scene. 

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Ducati showcase their electric MotoE racer

Ducati has unveiled its electric racer for the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) MotoE World Cup to run alongside the MotoGP series.

The prototype bike took to the track for the first time at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli this week.

Fellow Italian motorcycle company Energica has been the sole supplier of bikes for the MotoE World Cup series since 2019.

It will be replaced by the Ducati in 2023 and it looks just as sporty and sexy!

The electric motorcycle prototype, code-named “V21L”, is the result of the joint work of the Ducati Corse team and the Ducati R&D engineers, led by Roberto Canè, Ducati eMobility Director.

“We are experiencing a truly extraordinary moment,” Roberto enthused.

“I find it hard to believe it is reality and still not a dream. The first electric Ducati on the track is exceptional not only for its uniqueness but also for the type of undertaking: challenging both for its performance objectives and for its extremely short timescales.

“Precisely for this reason, the work of the whole team dedicated to the project has been incredible and today’s result repays us for the efforts made in recent months. We are certainly not finished yet; indeed, we know that the road ahead is still very long, but in the meantime, we have laid a first important ‘brick’.”

The V21L was piloted on track by Michele Pirro, professional rider and Ducati test rider since 2013.

“Testing the MotoE prototype on the circuit was a great thrill, because it marks the beginning of an important chapter in Ducati history,” Michele says.

“The bike is light and already has a good balance. Furthermore, the throttle connection in the first opening phase and the ergonomics are very similar to those of a MotoGP bike. If it weren’t for the silence and for the fact that in this test, we decided to limit the power output to just 70% of performance, I could easily have imagined that I was riding my bike.”

The most important challenges in the development of an electric racing motorcycle remain related to the size, weight and range of the batteries.

Ducati is also not changing its aims of making high-performance and lightweight motorcycles.

They say the focus of the MotoE project is to provide performance, light weight and consistency of power delivery during the race.

They hope to achieve this with an efficient cooling system.

The expertise they gain through the exercise will obviously trickle down to their future electric road and adventure bikes.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Toby Price biography coming soon

As Aussie Toby Price goes for his third Dakar Rally title in January 2022, book stores across the country will be busy stocking up on his biography.

Endurance: The Toby Price Story is his incredible and inspiring journey from childhood racing prodigy on a remote farm in the Australian bush to the top of the podium in one of the world’s most unforgiving race events and recipient of an OAM at age 33.

Widely renowned for his ‘Bush Mechanic’ persona and one of the most beloved figures in Australian sport today, Toby has overcome many formidable bumps in the road: The death of his adored sister, Min; the tragic loss of mentors and rivals in the desert; countless broken bones and an accident that should have paralysed him for life.

The 34-year-old from Maitland, NSW, has seven Finke wins across bike and car classes, five Hattah Desert Race victories, five Australian Off-Road Championships, and two National Enduro championships. 

In 2015, Toby made his first attempt at the soul-destroying, 9000km, 14-day Dakar Rally. 

A stage win and an overall podium earned Price a full-time seat on the KTM Factory Red Bull Racing Team. 

He now has two Dakar titles, in 2016 and 2019, and sadly crashed out while chasing the lead last year in Saudi Arabia.

He will be back next January aiming for his third title.

Endurance: The Toby Price Story is co-written with Andrew Van Leeuwin and will be published on 1 February 2022.

Andrew is an award-winning journalist who has specialised in motorsport for more than 15 years. 

Tony Weber prepares to learn to ride

He started his career at Australasian Motorsport News in Melbourne, working his way into the top digital editor role before relocating to Mainz, Germany, in 2012. 

During a three-year stint in Europe he covered a number of series, including the DTM, while working for Autosport, before returning to Australia as part of Motorsport.com‘s global expansion in early 2015. 

He currently leads Motorsport Network’s Supercars coverage and is considered one of the top motorsport journalists and podcasters in Australia. 

He lives in Perth with his wife Anne, kids Nico and Billie and chihuahua Coco.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Jack Miller returns to Australian Superbikes

Aussie race fans will be able to cheer on their MotoGP star, Jack Miller, in the final round of the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK).

After finishing third in the final last round of the MotoGP Championship in Valencia last weekend and fourth for the season, Jack will travel to South Australia for the ASBK race at The Bend Motorsport Park on 3–5 December.

Aussies have missed out on seeing their local hero for the past two years with the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix cancelled in 2020 and this year.

He will compete on a 2021 Ducati Panigale V4 R alongside fellow Australian Ducati riders Mike Jones, Wayne Maxwell and three-time World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss’s son, Oli, in the two-race event.

Jack says it is a “massive privilege and honour” to race in front of Australian fans.

“As you can imagine it has not been easy to try and organise everything from the other side of the world at such short notice,” he says.

The final round will be open to spectators with travel restrictions easing for several states.

Jack comes from Townsville north Queensland and won his first dirt track title at the age of only 10 in 2005. 

I was two and a half years old, nearly three, when my dad taught me how to ride, even though, once I learnt the base, I was kind of self-taught,” Jack says.

“I learn a lot of things on my own. That’s why I have so many broken bones!

“My first bike was a (Honda) QR 50 from my brother. He got it on his birthday and that was the day I went to ride it.

“We rode all day, every day. We just put more petrol in the bike and kept going.”

Black Dog Ride, depression, dementia, mental illness, suicide, motorcycles, charity

In 2008 he moved to road racing and in 2010 he went to Europe.

He was the championship runner-up in the 2014 Moto3 World Championship and won his first MotoGP race at the 2016 Dutch TT.

In 2021, he raced for the factory Ducati team.

“This year we finish fourth, and it is my best result ever in the MotoGP Championship, so I hope to do even better next year,” he says.

So do we!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Aussie Oli Bayliss follows his father’s tracks

Oliver Bayliss, the 18-year-old son of Australia’s three-time World Superbike champion Troy, will follow in his father’s tyre tracks to the world stage next year.

He will race in the 2022 FIM Supersport World Championship for the Barni Racing aboard a Ducati Panigale V2.

Oli was born on 20 September 2003 in Monaco and started racing in the Australian Supersport series in 2017 at the age of 13.

The following year, he was alongside his dad and in 2020/21 he competed in the Australian Superbike Championship on a Ducati Panigale V4 R, picking up his first win at Hidden Valley.

Oli and Troy Bayliss father and son
Oli and Troy Bayliss

With the support of Ducati, the Bayliss family chose the Barni Racing Team alongside 20-year-old Luca Bernardi to take Oliver’s career a step further.

“I’ve finished my school program, which means I can now put my focus completely on racing motorbikes, training and only that,” Oli says.

His arrival in the WorldSSP Championship will come 20 years after Troy’s first World Superbike Championships with another twin-cylinder Ducati.

“Oli has been brought up around racing,” says his proud dad.

“I think the move to Barni Racing Team is a great opportunity, I hope he enjoys the V-twin as much as I did.”

Yamaha Bolt R-Spec

Barni Racing Team Principal Marco Barnabò says they have never had such a young team.

“At the beginning we won’t focus on results, but only on the growth of these two young riders,” he says.

Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti says the “Bayliss family and Ducati have always been linked very strongly”.

Ducati  launched the V2 Bayliss Replica special version to celebrate Troy’s first world title with Ducati 20 years ago.

Bayliss Panigale V2

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Finding the next Aussie MotoGP star

Australian rider training organisation motoDNA is launching the world’s first data-driven motorcycling competition to find our next Casey Stoner MotoGP champion.

motoDNA boss Mark McVeigh says pandemic restrictions have hampered the development of young Aussie motorcycling talent.

He says their competition, called motoCHAMPION, will allow riders aged 11 to 16 to safely return to competition.

Rather than using subjective judging criteria, the competition will use motoDNA’s Digital Academy technology which is also used to analyse and coach road riders.

The technology employs more than a decade of rider data to analyse behaviours such as braking, steering to measure, grade and coach road riders and competitive racers.

To enter, riders should click here for details and to sign up.

Basically they will need to use a GoPro on their road motorcycle on a secure tarmac surface using motoDNA’s Figure 8 layout and upload the video to motoDNA for analysis.

Riders will be able to see how they place on the motoCHAMPION leaderboards.

The top prize is a sponsored place in the 2022 bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup, worth more than $10,000.

The top five motoCHAMPION riders will earn an automatic place in the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup selection event where they will have the chance to qualify for the 2022 season.

Motorcycling Australia CEO Peter Doyle says the motoDNA Digital Academy technology will provide riders with an additional tool to develop their riding technique and skills.

Closing date for the competition is Tuesday, November 30, with the winners decided on Friday, December 10.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Aussie TV host Kate Peck leads racing body

Vivacious Kate Peck, the well-known Aussie motorsport host, motorcycle fan and new President of the Motorcycling NSW is seeking five new board directors with a special callout to female riders.

“We have a strong legion of women already but there is always room for improvement,” says Kate about the NSW-based motorcycle racing representative body which is affiliated with Motorcycling Australia.

“I hope to encourage this participation, in all roles and levels of competition, making sure it is a safe and comfortable space for them to do so by increased diversity in age, experience and ability alongside track access and affordability. 

“Plus clear and affordable pathways for them to enter into the sport. And a place for female within each sport.” 

Kate says she hopes the new board will make the MNSW and it 111 affiliated clubs more visible to the youth market.

“I am determined to create a diverse board of young and old with a variety of experience, balanced in gender and differing backgrounds,” she says.

She is calling for “passionate two-wheeling readers” to become one of five new directors on the MNSW board.

“This is a rare opportunity to help shape the future of motorcycling in NSW,” she says.

To apply, just click here and send an email for the application form. But be quick as applications close on September 14, 2021.Kate Peck

Kate has been on numerous motorsport TV shows and currently hosts and field-produces the coverage of the Australian Off Road Championship and anchors the new Aus Moto Show on Fox Sports and SBS. 

“A lot of my work revolves around Motorsport and racing thus why MNSW was the right fit,” says Kate who is also on the MA Women’s Committee.

She’s not the first woman to take the reins of Motorcycling NSW. That honour goes to Christine Tickner who was a driving force at the Penrith club and Nepean Raceway Dirt Track.

Kate is passionate about her new role and is encouraging more female participation in the organisation.

“After I joined the Motorcycling Australia Womens Committee early this year, I was made aware a position available on the MNSW Board,” she says.

“I can proudly say that the MNSW Business currently has a 75% female workforce however there is still not enough female presence in Motorsport and motorcycling, on any level yet alone at the Board level. 

“Any way I can encourage more participation of women, I will. I would love to see the support and expansion of female classes within the different motorcycle disciplines. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.”

Kate began riding on a Piaggio Zipp 100 scooter to get to Sydney modelling castings. 

“My dad had always been into bikes but that hadn’t had an affect on me as my parents were separated,” she says. 

“Until I was in my early 20s and dad invited me on a three-month motorbike trip to Africa. That was the tipping point for my obsession.”Kate Peck

Her first motorbike was a “true lemon” grey import Suzuki, followed by a KLR 650 and KLE 500. 

“I then began working in the industry, taking on ambassador roles and TV presenting roles working on F1, MotoGP and with Channel 10,” she says. 

Ambassador roles meant free bikes which Kate decided was a smarter option than buying.

Her first ambassador role was with Victory Motorcycles followed by Harley-Davidson, then a long relationship with BMW, a small stint with KTM and now Ducati. 

Her most recent bike was a Ducati V4 Streetfighter and she and her partner own a Ducati Scrambler. 

However, Kate recently became a mother, so she is taking a short sabbatical from riding, but not from the sport she loves.

She says she hopes to encourage more participation in all roles and levels of competition, especially for women, in a safe, comfortable and affordable environment.Kate Peck

What are Kate’s plans for Motorcycling NSW?

  • Increased development of our members skills in order to ride faster, safer. I’d like to see more coaching and training capacity and programs available at clubs – getting started in competition can be intimidating. 
  • Encourage growth in community, creating life long friendships that have been developed at clubs during coaching and training program or throughout competition.
  • Increased cultural diversity in membership and increased uptake in youth and females. 
  • Increase the family fun appeal of taking part in Motorsport and competition. 
  • Grow the sport for the future – we need the next generation to understand the fun you can have developing these riding skills and taking part in competition with mates. 
  • Now more than ever we need all hands on deck to encourage people to get interested – Clubs have a taken a hit throughout COVID and we need to get behind them and show support. 

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Wayne Rainey: 30th Anniversary Of His 1991 Laguna Seca Win & How Things Are Today

A Short History On The Legendary Man

If you were a kid planted in front of the TV in the 1980s, basking in the glow of the cathode rays as they showed you a young rider rising quickly through the ranks of American Superbike racing, you have obviously heard of Wayne Rainey. You know the fierce battles, the smoothness and courage showed in his push to win, and the three back-to-back world championships in the Grand Prix World Championship (GPWC) of Superbikes, the predecessor to MotoGP.

For those not aware, Wayne Wesley Rainey, born in 1960, was what could generously be called a prodigy. By 1981, he was racing in the AMA Grand National Championship, and was ranked the 15th best dirt track racer in the USA. He changed over to 250cc road racing in 1982 and was picked up by Kawasaki for the AMA Superbike championship that year, partnering with the defending National Champion Eddie Lawson.

During the 1987 season, riding for American Honda in the AMA Superbike series, one of the most famous rivalries in all of superbike racing started. It was the year that Wayne Rainey met Kevin Schwantz. It was the year that they would both leap out in front of the field on the first few laps, and then race wheel to wheel for the entirety of the race, often separated by less than a second, and when one pulled out ahead, it was only a few seconds and they ate up tire life doing so.

Waine Rainey in 1989, racing at Hockenheim
Waine Rainey in 1989, racing at Hockenheim

Both moved up to the GPWC in the new 500cc class in 1988, with Wayne rejoining Team Roberts Yamaha who he had a one-season stint with in the mid-80s, and Kevin going to the factory Suzuki team. Their rivalry also came with them, with the two fighting wheel to wheel in the first 500cc race at the British Grand Prix at Donington Park, which Wayne won. The two also took part in the inaugural Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race, with Team Roberts winning that event.

1989 saw continued success for Wayne, as he achieved a podium at every race, sometimes beating out names like Mick Doohan, Roger Burnett, and teammate Kevin Magee. In 1990, Wayne finally found the perfect form, the perfect setup, the perfect sponsors, and the perfect team to back him (by staying with Team Roberts Yamaha). Riding the legendary 1990 Yamaha YZR500, he won the 500cc GPWC title. And did so again in 1991, including winning the round in front of his hometown Monterey crowd at Laguna Seca. He continued in his championship stride and despite a resurgent Kevin Schwantz pushing him to his limits, won the title for the third time on the trot in 1992.

However, that surge from Kevin would come back to bite both in the 1993 season. Wayne was getting pressured hard by Kevin, and was leading by only 11 points in the championship, making each race win and podium count.

At the Italian Grand Prix at Misano, the same circuit that would later be named after the late Marco Simoncelli, Wayne was leading the race when he lost the bike, slid out into a lowside, and critically hit the curbing at the side of the track, which tossed him end over end into a gravel trap. When it had all come to a stop, he tried to get up, but found that he could only really move his arms, and his legs weren’t responding. By hitting that curbing and landing at an awkward angle, he had severed his spinal cord.

Sitting Down With The Legend

I want to start off this section by once again thanking Mr. Wayne Rainey, during the leadup to the MotoAmerica Laguna Seca weekend, for putting aside time in his busy schedule to have what I would label as a Powersports fan’s dream interview. I personally have watched all forms of racing from Formula 1 to International FIA GT, the old GT1 endurance races, Le Mans, you name it, I was–and always will be–a fan of it.

Note: Content has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Wayne Rainey at the Czech GP in 1990
The 1990 Czech GP, where Wayne Rainey secured his first Grand Prix World Superbike title.

Simon Bertram: Mr. Rainey, firstly, let me thank you for setting aside the time to have this interview. It’s a bit of a dream come true for me!

Wayne Rainey: No problem at all, happy to help.

SB: While it was 30 years ago, something I’ve always wondered about was what sticks with a champion after they retire or are forced to retire from sports. What do you recall from your Laguna Seca win in 1991?

WR: Wow, that’s a bit of a hard question to answer, because as you said, it was 30 years ago. I don’t remember every turn, every lap, but what I do have are awesome memories. The bike was great, perfectly tuned to the track and my rhythm. Of course, it was also my home crowd, so feeling that energy was amazing.

Wayne Rainey racing at Laguna Seca in 1991
Wayne Rainey jumped the top of the corkscrew at Laguna Seca during his legendary 1991 United States GP at Laguna Seca win.

It was one of my most special races. These were the days of riders that rode monsters, bikes that had no traction control, no anti-lock brakes, nothing other than rider skill. And being able to hear the roar of the crowd cheering, even over the sound of the bike, made it special. As one of the few American stops that the Grand Prix made in the United States, it was super important to me to win that race, in front of family and friends, in front of my hometown crowd.

You know that feeling you get when you nail a corner on a bike just right or flow through a technical section of a track perfectly? That was the feeling I had in my chest as I crossed the finish line first.

SB: I have had that feeling, actually, the first time I took a corner on my own bike on the road where it just felt perfect, that little buzz in the chest of “yeah, I’m doing this!”

Now, as you mentioned that Laguna Seca is your home track and, rightly so, very special, are there any other tracks that you raced on that hold special memories for you? Best battles, perfect laps, the like…

WR: Well, I took every race track as its own challenge, and I love the challenge of every racetrack. But, there were a few that were very special to me, and not in the way that most people would think.

I spoke with someone earlier today about the race at Assen, Holland, in ‘91. I ended up getting second place to Kevin Schwantz, I still think about it to this day.

About a third of the way in, it started to rain. Back then, they stopped the race instead of having a spare bike setup with wet tires. In those days, you would carry the time ahead or behind the rider in front and behind, and Kevin was leading me by about half a second. So, when we restarted the race, he already had a half a second lead on me, so that meant by the end of the race, not only did I have to beat Kevin, but I had to beat him by half a second.

Wayne Rainey battling with Kevin Schwantz, Mick Doohan and John Kocinski in 1991
Mick Doohan (3), Kevin Schwantz (34), Wayne Rainey (1), and John Kocinski (19) battling hard in 1991

I had pulled out a good lead on Kevin through the race, but at the start of the last lap, my pit board said “+0.0 SCHWANTZ L1.” I had to gain that half a second back, and put together a lap that was honestly probably the best lap of my entire career. I pulled over a second on him going into the last turn.

As I flicked it in there on the brakes, I pushed the front out. I couldn’t risk it so close to the end, so I straightened it up, went straight off the track, over the gravel trap, and as I moved to get back on track, I had to put my left foot down to lean away from a grass hedge that divided the pit road from the racetrack.

As soon as I was back on the track, I started to accelerate. I could see the start/finish line, and Schwantz passed me right as we both crossed the line. So, after all that, he still barely beat me. What I really remember, however, is that even after doing all that, Kevin got the lap record on that lap, which lasted for another, if I remember, 10 years, until they changed the track.

Misano Circuit track diagram
The 1991 layout for Misano World Circuit, very different from today’s track. Notably, in 1991, the track was run counterclockwise, instead of the clockwise layout in 2021.

SB: What other tracks hold special memories for you?

Another track I remember is Misano, the same track where I raced my last race, on the Adriatic Coast in Italy. It was a track that I could race the 500 much like I raced flat track back in the States, and had a series of four left-hand turns (Turns 3 to 6 in the above image) that you started out in second gear, short-shift to third, it opens up, shift to fourth, you lean it in… you could make one big arc out of the four of them.

In 1990, I was leading the race, Mick Doohan was in second. I forget how much of a lead I had, but in getting so far ahead, I chunked my rear tire. Back then, you never came in to change a tire but Mick had caught me and passed me, and I decided to pull into the pits. My team came over all nonchalant like “oh, the bike is broken?” to which I reply: “I need another rear tire!”  They say “What?!” And I go “GIVE. ME. ANOTHER. REAR. TIRE! I’m going back out!” So they grabbed John Kocinski’s spare wheel, changed out the sprocket, and threw it on my bike.

As I was exiting pit road, Mick was now lapping me. I got the tire warmed up, chased Mick down, and caught him, but I needed to catch him more than once. In the end, I crossed the line in 9th place. That was another racetrack (and another race) that I didn’t win, but it’s a memory that I’ll always keep.

SB: It’s well documented that you and Kevin Schwanz had a fierce rivalry in the 1987 American Superbike championship. Do you think that having that type of rider pushing you to be your best, race after race, effectively made you into the champion you were to become?

WR: I can tell you that the rivalry was real, and yes, Kevin pushed me in a way that no other rider did. It was possibly because there was a bit of a dislike for each other, but it wasn’t a feeling of hatred.

Wayne Rainey racing Kevin Schwantz at the 1993 Suzuka GP
Wayne Rainey (1) and Kevin Schwantz (34) racing hard at the 1993 Suzuka GP

I really didn’t realize how much the rivalry meant to me, really, until I stopped racing. When I had time afterward to reflect back, and to see what happened to him after my retirement. The thing that was special about Kevin was that I could focus on three or four other guys (Mick Doohan, Eddie Lawson, John Kocinski) and not focus as much on Kevin. Or, I could focus just on Kevin if it was just us two racing each other, and that took care of the rest of the field that was behind him.

We both raced each other like we wanted to win, we both wanted to beat each other like no one else out there. It’s been almost 30 years now since we last raced each other, and we’re still not great friends, but there is that respect for each other.

SB: Rainey Curve at Laguna Seca: I’ve driven it many times in sim racing, and it’s always a real pain to set up for, having to recover from left to right across the track right after the corkscrew… What do you think of having one of the most deceptively difficult corners on the track named after you?

WR: You touched on it almost perfectly there, because on a bike, when you come out of the bottom of the corkscrew, everything wants to push towards the outside of the corner. Your bike wants to go that way, the hill is canted that way, and you have to really put in the effort to bring it back over to the right.

What was important on the bikes, especially back then, was to get to the right enough so that when you braked and leaned, you got on the clean line. Brake a moment too late, you’re out wide, on the dust and sand, and it’s really tricky to pull the bike back to the racing line, and you miss the apex. Brake too early or lean too hard, and you clip the apex early, again sending you out wide into the slippery stuff.

Wayne Rainey racing in 1989
Wayne Rainey racing in 1989

But when you got it just right, the bike would hook up like you wouldn’t believe, and you could disappear down the track. It’s one of those curves that has no margin for error, you need to get it right every time, or it could literally lose you the race. Of course, I’m very honored to have that corner named after me, and whenever MotoAmerica comes back to Laguna Seca, I’ll sometimes go out in the wheelchair in the morning and sweep the corner clean.

SB: Do you remember any words of wisdom that Frank Williams said to you that any young up-and-coming racer should hear? His team is as legendary in Formula 1 as your three championships on the trot are to American superbike racers, and the next generation is always the one that will carry the torch of motorsports forwards.

WR: To make what he said to me make sense, you need to realize how much the crash at Misano affected me. I was 33 years old, at the top of my chosen profession, with a lovely wife, newborn kid, and then suddenly I had no movement below my chest. In a word, it was devastating.

And that’s not to skip the fact that from the moment I was taken to the Misano medical center to getting out of rehab in California was 12 weeks. 6 weeks in a cast that made me miserable, and then 6 weeks learning how to effectively live again. It got pretty dark in those days, and then Frank came over from England to visit.

Moments after Wayne Rainey's career engine crash
Immediately after his crash at Misano in 1993, asking the medical team why he couldn’t move. Image Courtesy of MotoGP Archives

It was like the curtains had been pulled back. Watching him get out of the car into his wheelchair, and he’s a quadripalegic with only minor movement in one hand, was a turning point. Racing requires a serious bit of ego, and watching him being helped into his chair with an air of dignity and confidence around him, and the way he carried himself despite his disability…

However, there was also a moment of honest truth that changed my whole outlook on life. Frank said to me, “You’re fucked. As soon as you realize that, you’ll start living again.” In the state I was in, I really didn’t understand what he meant. It was after a few months of getting used to my new routine that it dawned on me… although my body is broken, my mind is still there. Frank inspired me to keep going, making each day a push and a success.

SB: I personally watch MotoAmerica Superbike racing, and I have to say I am really happy with the direction it has been, and is continuing, to go. Do you see yourself remaining as one of the heads of the organization for the foreseeable future?

WR: (Wayne laughed for about 10 seconds here) Well, the whole story of how MotoAmerica has blown up always surprises me. By 2015, the AMA Racing association had messed up the rules, killed off classes, and made it very unattractive to manufacturers and sponsors alike. It was actually Dorna, the company that owns MotoGP, that asked me if I would be willing to step in and give the series one last injection of life before they wrote it off.

My partners and I took over and immediately threw out the current rule book. We took the basic rules of World SuperBike for the primary classes, but also proposed new and different classes. Superstock, superbike, minimoto, junior 600cc, all of those classes were expected. We also created the SuperTwins category.

MotoAmerica Superbikes racing at Road America in 2021
MotoAmerica Superbikes racing at Road America in 2021

We started out with 3 sanctioned races, no TV, and minimal attendance, and over 7 years we now have 10 sanctioned races, 5 racing classes and the fun classes I mentioned, and worldwide TV coverage. We also created the Hooligan class for supernakeds to race in, the King of the Baggers for bagger cruisers to be raced in, and we’re always looking at what people want to see.

Honestly, the real big draw for me was to revive a series that I myself had come through in my younger days to allow for Americans and Canadians both to have hometown heroes to cheer on, and for talent to be developed that might one day move up to the top tiers of racing, either in MotoGP or World Superbike.

SB: Anything you’d like to add before we wrap up today?

WR: In a strange way, this past year and a half has revitalized motorcycle riding, and racing, in North America. Everyone was feeling too cooped up, and by going out and learning to ride, since a bike is really a one-person vehicle, you could go out on a ride and still follow all the health guidelines. Track days, group rides, motorcycle clubs, it’s all really exciting

And with that interest in riding, we potentially have an entirely new generation of future champions getting their first real taste of what it’s like on two wheels. I am, in fact, much more excited about the future than I was in the past, and I don’t plan on retiring from running MotoAmerica anytime soon. I’ve pulled back because I am getting on a bit.  I’m 61, but with the people I know running things as they are, American superbike racing isn’t going anywhere but up.

SB: Once again, thank you so much for your time and insight.

WR: You’re quite welcome!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

100 bikes race at Historic Winton

One hundred motorcycle and sidecar racers will be on show at the annual Historic Winton event on 22-23 May, 2021, at Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria.

The event was canceled last year because of the pandemic and this year it has caused the organisers to cancel official vehicle displays.

However, organisers say spectators are welcome to arrive on their historic motorcycles and will be parked together.

“We’ve had about 10 weeks to organise the event instead of 10 months,” a spokesperson says.

“It’s amazing what a great team can do – all volunteers too.”

There will be a total of 300 competitors in 48 races, once again after the COVID-caused hiatus in 2020.

Ticket sales have opened with a bang, according to event secretary, Peta Lee.

“We had no idea what to expect but the event is so loved by its fans that plenty are keen for another dose of historic motorsport action,” she said.

“The support from spectators is amazing with people keen to get into the outdoors around the Winton racetrack to see the historic cars, motorcycles and sidecars tough it out,” Peta said.

“Surprisingly, we have quite a number of first-time or new competitors from around Victoria which we are thrilled about.”Historic Winton

Tickets are available online only to meet COVID contact tracing requirements in advance of getting to the gate.  They will be on sale until 4pm, Sunday 23 May.

Peta said that purchasing and registering in advance will mean that ticket holders will flow quite quickly into the grounds of Winton Motor Raceway.

Tickets are reduced this year as there are less displays, so a daily ticket is $30 per adult, children 17 and under are free but must be registered online to get entry.

Camping is also available at $50 for the weekend per person through the ticket link.

“There’ll be plenty of room for everyone to social distance and we ask attendees to be COVID safe at all time,” she said.

A limited number of programs will be available for purchase onsite.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com