125cc – the class that keeps on giving

Moto2 at Silverstone 2010

Where Moto2 leads Moto3 will follow. (pic Silverstone)

125cc Grand Prix racing will be sorely missed when it is replaced by Moto3 next season, unless of course the new format doesn’t shake things up too much. For decades the smallest of the Grand Prix classes has been the very definition of close competition, even today there is intense pack-racing and last lap passes galore. At the Sachsenring we were treated to that rarest of results – a dead heat between Hector Faubel and Johann Zarco. After forty minutes of fantastic racing around the sweeps and dips of the German Grand Prix venue the Aprilia and the Derbi could not be separated by either the timing beam or even the photo-finish camera. They had to settle it on a tie-break that gave the win to Faubel due to him scoring a faster race lap as they dashed to the flag.

The 125cc class has been a part of the show since the start of world championship motorcycle racing in 1949, so the forthcoming Moto3 rulebook has a lot to live up to. On the evidence of Moto2 we shouldn’t worry too much. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such hot competition in the middle class of motorcycle Grand Prix racing before the advent of this multi-chassis spec-engine formula. In 2011 Marquez and Bradl – who finished one-two at the Sachsenring this afternoon – have put on quite a show. Both deserve a spot in Moto GP.

Luckily there should be a place for them both in the top class next year as we are due to be treated to an influx of new teams. This is sorely needed of course with only 17 riders, sometimes less, competing at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. The new rules will see more bang for your buck as the engineers squeeze another few CCs out of the engines. It’s extra bikes that are needed for the top flight rather than a bit more cubic capacity, nobody worried that 500s weren’t big enough, they just concentrated on making the engines punch way above their weight.

The 2011 grid may be lacking in quantity but there is still plenty of quality, the Moto GP encounter at the Sachsenring was a treat with entertainment all through the modest field. The ever-injured Danny Pedrosa took a surprising and hard-fought win from the two title protagonists Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner who duked it out until the flag fell, the Yamaha rider eventually overcoming the Australian who sits atop the standings. The riders may not be too keen on the track but the tight sweepers of the Sachsenring usually make for entertaining racing. The hundreds of thousands who packed the stands and the banks clearly think a little differently to the guys who are sat on the bikes, the German GP attendance was close to Spanish or Italian levels.

A Moto GP race day always features close finishes, huge grids and superstar riders. It’s just a shame that it’s not usually all in the same race. Let’s hope that Moto3 doesn’t ruin the magic of 125s and that Moto GP’s tweaked rules result in a boost to the grid.

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