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News It’s Time To Ban Standing Starts In Motorcycle Racing

Discussion in 'Motorcycling News' started by NetriderBot, Jul 27, 2015.

  1. #1 NetriderBot, Jul 27, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2015
    Last weekend, Bernat Martinez and Daniel Rivas Fernandez lost their lives at MotoAmerica’s Superbike/Superstock 1000 race. The incident occurred at the start of the race in a situation that is any rider’s worst nightmare – Fernandez's bike either stalled or lost power after the green light and he was a sitting duck while riders at full acceleration rode past. Unfortunately, Fernandez was hit and in the ensuing chaos, both he and Martinez received what would ended up being life ending injuries. It was not the first time an incident like this happened and it won’t be the last, unless standing starts are done away with.

    Such events aren't isolated to motorcycle racing by any means. There have been numerous such incidents in Formula 1 over the years including one that resulted in the death of Riccardo Paletti at the Canadian Grand Prix in 1982 due to another car stalling on the grid. Back in 2011 there was a spectacular though thankfully not fatal incident due to a car failing at the start in a V8 Supercar race in Perth.

    The difference between modern race cars and motorcycles when it comes to these incidents today is that fatalities in four wheeled racing are almost unheard of. Race cars are surrounded by carbon fibre and steel with safety cells and roll cages. A car can virtually be destroyed and the safety cell with the driver inside will remain intact – at worst the driver may receive concussion, bruises and whiplash.

    In motorcycle racing, there is no protective bubble. Incidents like this are the equivalent to someone walking out onto a freeway and getting hit by a car at speed – you cannot survive that and yet it’s something that’s deemed an acceptable risk in motorcycle racing. The starting grid at Laguna Seca from end to end is approximately 150 metres in length. That’s more than enough distance for a literbike to easily reach speeds that prevent a rider from reacting to an unsighted and stricken competitor on the grid.

    It should be kept in mind that the incident last weekend wasn’t at an amateur event. MotoAmerica is the premier motorcycle series in the USA and is a feeder category to the World Superbike Championship – the event that this particular race was supporting. These were professional racers – the danger to amateurs with less experience and less skill is even greater.


    Purists will no doubt argue that introducing rolling starts is just further sanitation of motorcycle racing. I would argue that unlike every other high risk sport, motorcycle racing hasn’t been sanitised at all over the years. Helmet technology has improved marginally over the decades and only a few riders at MotoGP and WSBK level have access to (or can afford) airbag technology. Literbikes can reach speeds in excess of 300 kph on many tracks. MotoGP riders hit 342 kph at Indianapolis – that’s comparable to what F1 cars reach at Monza. Motorcycle racing remains one of, if not the most dangerous form of motorsport in existence.

    Le mans style starts were once common place but are now almost never used and this was done for safety reasons. While doing away with standing starts does take a type of skill away from racing, it’s an incredibly minor facet of a race and it merely puts more emphasis on qualifying.

    The deaths of Bernat Martinez and Daniel Rivas Fernandez was a tragedy and unless rolling starts are introduced it won’t be the last.

    Continue reading...

  2. I'm struggling to think, of or find any reference to, any other riders dying from a start incident.

    I can see the benefit of a rolling start to car racing safety, but I think the chaos of a rolling start on bikes would be almost as dangerous as a standing start. You would have to have them behind each other, with a gap of about a bike length to make it safe. And that would be almost impossible to regulate.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  3. Agree, ibast. There may be a better way of doing it, but rolling start is not necessarily any safer.
    Start eliminating risk on the basis of unique incidents and pretty soon you'll be left with nothing.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. Blah blah blah... Mindless paranoid bullshit... Blah blah blah... Ban Everything! That's what I took from the article, more vacuous nonsense from a society that wants us not to accept risk, sigh.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Funny Funny x 1
  5. I still remember fondly the spectacle of a LeMans start, in the end I suppose it had to go as there was danger especially with a lot of riders carrying injuries now days making their running a bit slow. As others have said I don't accept that a rolling start is any safer than a standing start though.

    Grid sizes could be addressed, some grids are getting very large. Number of box positions on a a track, two per line rather than three. But this type of incident is tragic but very rare and everybody is aware of the risks they take.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Yep.

    Motorcycle racing is dangerous. Even time trials with out the group starts have deaths.

    Accept it or take up basket weaving.

    On a more serious note I agree with the above post regarding grid sizes and bikes per row. This would give bikes more room to get around a stalled rider.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. it may be dangerous at the start and duration of the race but honestly once someone has stalled or come off the bike, we just have to hope for the best when something bad happens.
    In my view I don't mind how it is at the moment but it is up to the FIM and every governing bodies in each country that has racing to decide to change something.
  8. Up until the mid 80's they push started the bikes in gp racing , they still have Le mans starts in the world endurance races . All forms of motor racing is dangerous ,they have crashes in rolling starts in nascar .
  9. Agree. There are rolling start crashes in every form of motorsport that uses them. Gokarts, V8Supercars, Indy cars, dirt track, yada yada yada.
  10. Watch that first corner its a doozy lol F1 cars have computer guided launch control you can have your foot on the break stomping it through the floor push launch button car takes off every time perfect which has removed that risk of failure to launch and the fans still watch after some whinging so same to bikes rolling start is the best you could hope for (as launch control is improbable for two wheels ) but even then associated risk to that too nothing is perfect it just my personal decision I'd rather meet my maker at high speed than at the start line ;)
  11. download.
    • Like Like x 4
  12. I've sat at the front of a race grid with a dead bike as the race starts and it's really, really scary but having raced regularly for over a decade and have never seen anyone hurt in this situation
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  13. They still do the run to your bike start at the Suzuka 8hr -