Niall mourns the loss of the 250GP class but looks forward to a new era of opportunity for British racers, voices his concerns over dwindling sponsorship and goes over the top...
Like many I have been lamenting the demise of 250cc Grand Prix bikes but now it is time for this to stop. This stepping stone class between 125cc and MotoGP has provided some amazing racing over the past 30 years but the party has well and truly come to an end.
This year, unless you exchanged both your’s and your parent’s house with Aprilia for a one-year lease deal, there was no way of putting a competitive bike on the grid.
Also, with no national 250cc GP championships anywhere in the world, it’s highly unlikely talented local youngsters would be given 250GP wild cards. And sad as it is, these brilliant bikes bear no resemblance to anything for sale in your local dealer’s showroom, meaning zero interest for manufacturers.
Next season, 250GPs will be replaced with Moto2 and the closest a Grand Prix class has come to being a one-make series. Dunlop tyres, 600cc Honda engines, no electronics but free chassis and suspension are the main ingredients of this new format. I have to say I like the concept, however fans tend to have an allegiance to a manufacturer as well as a rider so it won’t be quite the same cheering on your favourite chassis. That aside, the Moto2 machines are already lapping faster than 250s so I have no doubt the racing will be spectacular. The icing on the cake however would be Cal Crutchlow and Eugene Laverty moving from World Supersport to join British 125cc stars Bradley Smith and Scott Redding on the Moto2 grid. Surely then the first ever Moto2 World Champion will be a Brit!
Like most I was surprised to hear that Wrigley’s Airwaves have decided to end their sponsorship agreement with the hugely successful GSE Yamaha BSB Team.
I had a similar experience back in the nineties while riding for the Cadbury’s Boost Yamaha Team. Like Airwaves GSE, all we ever did was win races and championships and back then with prime time BBC coverage. We had an excellent relationship with our sponsors even if Rob Mac over embraced the free chocolate. We were told the reason for the withdrawal was that Cadbury had a three-year plan and had achieved all they could so wanted to spend their cash elsewhere. They also suggested that sometimes being too successful can mean the public get tired of seeing the same bikes at the front and even be put off the product being promoted. While I didn’t disbelieve any of this I had another theory. The marketing boss (and BSB enthusiast) that brokered our deal left Cadbury in year two and was replaced with someone who had no interest in bikes or racing.
Understandably the new guy also wanted a fresh start and was never going to direct money into a sport he didn’t understand.
One week before the opening race of the following season, through a series of chance meetings, Rob Mac persuaded Sir Richard Branson that the Virgin logo would fit nicely on to the fairing of our stunning new Yamaha R7. At the time it was a one year toe in the water deal for Virgin however it lasted for an incredible nine years. I hope GSE can be equally as lucky and land the high profile partner they deserve very soon.
Finally, any of you that read my column last month may remember me mentioning an R1 stunt I got completely wrong. If you can be bothered, YouTube ‘Mackenzie R1 Knockhill’ to see how not to do a stoppie...
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