Pit pass............................................

Fast Bikes - - CONTENTS -

I t’s been an in­ter­est­ing year in the rac­ing world, where we’ve seen rid­ers who’ve al­ready taken mul­ti­ple ti­tles se­cure yet an­other. In BSB we had Shane Byrne win­ning his sixth British Su­per­bikes crown, mean­ing the press of­fice will be work­ing fever­ishly to fig­ure out a zingy rhyming catch­phrase for 2018, the rhyme be­ing re­lated to the num­ber seven. Six ti­tles is a phe­nom­e­nal num­ber, and we re­ally can’t rule out him. By the time he even­tu­ally de­cides to re­tire, he’ll have won so many it’ll take decades for any­one to best his tally.

Then in WSB there’s Jonny Rea, with his third on the bounce (the first man to do so), Carl Fog­a­rty’s four-ti­tle record now in dan­ger of be­ing matched. His race win record will un­doubt­edly fall in 2018, short of any­thing bizarre hap­pen­ing to Rea. Jonny has been truly out­stand­ing, he and the Kawasaki ZX-10R are in­deed one en­tity, mean­ing his main ri­val Chaz Davies has had to over-ride the fickle Du­cati Panigale time and again, to his cost, to try and beat him. Can Rea be de­feated in 2018? His re­cent hege­mony in the class would sug­gest not, even with per­for­mance sap­ping rules com­ing into place. In fact, it’s highly likely that Chaz’s skills mak­ing the Du­cati work, and sub­se­quent rev re­duc­tions, will in fact hurt him even more than the re­stric­tions put on Kawasaki will hurt Rea. The first few races will tell all.

And so, Marc Mar­quez, what a year he has had. He’s more fa­mous for sav­ing a dozen im­pos­si­ble look­ing crashes than win­ning his sixth world ti­tle. What he has done on his Honda time and again, nearly ev­ery week­end, beg­gars be­lief. Yes there have been a few re­mark­able saves by oth­ers over re­cent years, but even the most im­pres­sive of those pales into near in­signif­i­cance com­pared to Marc’s an­tics, most of all turn one dur­ing Va­len­cia’s race at over 110mph.

His skill at sav­ing those front end slides and crashes, al­lied to the fact he can get the best of a very un­der-par Honda RCV and, cru­cially, take points when the bike re­ally isn’t work­ing, as­tounds even his clos­est ri­vals. They sim­ply can­not be­lieve what he’s do­ing, and nor can we, nor any­one else. We know this won’t go down well with many, but at the age of 24, just how long will it be be­fore he takes the man­tle of ‘Great­est Of All Time’? He’s just three ti­tles away from equalling Rossi’s tally, and has enough time on his side to beat the records set by the main man, Gi­a­como Agos­tini. He al­ready breaks a record nearly ev­ery week­end he pulls his lid on, there are few left he hasn’t smashed, in fact.

Folk will point to hav­ing to win on dif­fer­ent ma­chin­ery to be­come the great­est, or a half dozen other rea­sons that may stop him tak­ing that man­tle off ei­ther Rossi or Ago. But if he wins more ti­tles and more races than any­one ever has be­fore he re­tires, even if it’s just on a Honda, do­ing un­be­liev­able things along the way, is that not enough? For some, no, and of course all this GOAT busi­ness is usu­ally a load of non­sense. Our Pit Shadow put it per­fectly a few years ago, in that these spe­cial rid­ers are the great­est of their ‘era’ rather than of all time.

But any­way, in the mean­time, well done Marc, an­other in the bag – will 2018 be num­ber lucky seven, we won­der?

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