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GP Circus Rolls On

4429 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  rsheidler
Let's hope for some good racing without serious incidents.
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When the heck did Barry Sheene die? I thought he was doing well in his battle with cancer. I guess I was wrong. I will miss his monthly column in Bike.
Gracias. I'll have to move out from under this rock I guess...
While most of the roadracing world is still in shock and mourning over the death of Daijiro Kato, and while MotoGP riders are discussing a possible boycott of Suzuka unless major changes are made to the circut, Triumph have announced that they have chosen perhaps the most unsafe course still in use in international motorcycle roadracing to make the international race debut for their new Daytona 600. (They have been contesting the Supersport class in the British Superbike series.)

According to a notice posted at, Triumph have announced that they will field a team of 3 Daytona 600s in the Production and Junior classes at the Isle of Man TT in May.
I cringed when the Speed Channel telecast of the race showed a very brief replay of the corner workers trotting up to the motionless rider laying on the track, then unceremoniously picking him up like a sack of potatos and plopping him onto a stretcher and running off with him. If his neck wasn't already terminally broken in the crash, it was by the time that these guys got done with him. Paramedics who respond to the scenes of trivial, low speed auto accidents use more cervical precautions than this poor man got. If I was a GP rider, I'd be just as concerned about the training of the course workers as I would be about the physical layout of the tracks.
While I'm not saying that they did the right thing, they certainly weren't "trotting". They were hauling A$$. They were (rightly or wrongly) removing a downed rider from a hot track so as to prevent him and anyone attending to him from being struck by other following motorcycles.

"Where's the red flag?" is the cry I've heard. Consider that flaggers up-course would have to be alerted and take action for there to be any hope of slowing traffic at the part of the course where Kato was lying. He was in a very dangerous position. The track workers at that corner had no way at all to assure Kato's safety other than to move him.

If they had let him lie there, and he was struck by another bike, injuring another rider, would that have been better?

Sometimes people have to make life-or-death decisions. I guess it's just the American way to sit back and criticize.
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I agree that it in not appropriate to jump to judgement in blaming the corner workers and other emergency crew. However, it is not a particularly American phenomonon to do so. From what I read on many other boards, the same reactions are widly expressed by Brits, Continentals, Aussies etc.

I believe that rather than assessing blame, the organizers should reasses all the procedures in such cases, along with track safety issues. This is pretty much the same process that occurred in F1 following Senna's death, or in NASCAR following Earnhart's death, or by NASA following the shuttle tragedy. Finding things that could be improved to reduce the risk in the future is a positive response, while finding someone to blame is a negative response that is likely to get in the way of finding the truth of what happened.

The best legacy for Kato would be for motorcycle road racing to improve track safety and improve the processes for dealing with serious accidents that do occur.
I think at most any track in europe or the US in that situation the red flag would have come right out, and the marshals did almost literally "throw" Kato onto the gurney. I'm not saying they made matters worse but you never will know.
What we do know is that it's all to easy to "Monday morning armchair quarterback" - despite the rhetoric, it's not a uniquely american trait but a human trait. On the contrary, the marshalls may have prevented matters from getting worse, but you will never know, just as I will never know if they made things worse. It's not my judgment to make, as I wasn't there.

All due respect to Kato-san and condolences to his family and friends.

Despite the sometimes dire circumstances, moto racing is an incredible display of cunning, skill, athleticism and mental prowess and my enthusiasm for it has not diminished. Then again, that's easy for me to say because I'm a mere spectator...
Thanks for this post, JB! It's the kind of tribute Kato most deserves.
For some reason, the Isle of Man TT seems like a special case to me. All the riders know how particularly dangerous it is, yet they come. It's like "tickling the tail of the Dragon"* or running with the bulls at Pamplona.

*Moving two lots of weapon grade Uranium oxide close enough together to approach critical mass.
I agree completely. That is one event that I really want to experience before I die, as is running with the bulls at Pamplona. I seriously had intended to do both while I lived in Europe, but somehow kept putting it off, and now I suspect I will be able to do neither. There is a lesson in there someplace, I believe.

When I saw this article on, I couldn't help but be struck with the irony of the situation -- juxtoposed with numerous articles about Kato's death, tributes from riders and others, and discussions of possible Suzuka bocotts, here is this post about Triumph returning to the TT!

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