British GP Preview

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
The British GP was one of the six original races on the first World Championshipcalendar of 1949 - but the event is in fact the oldest of them all, dating back to the dawn of motorcycleracing and reflecting generations of enthusiasm for the sport.

The original was the Isle of Man TT, firstheld in 1907, and when the modern world championship was founded after the Second World War, this week ofracing was Britain's GP. The race only moved to mainland Britain in 1977, to be run at Silverstone for10-years after the public-roads Manx circuit was judged too dangerous for modern racing...

It moved toDonington Park in 1987 after the length was specially extended to match the FIM minimum length. This isthe 15th running of the GP at the track outside Derby, bordering on the East Midlands airport - and thisyear a transformation is expected in spectator attendance. After five years of flagging figures and emptyterraces, advance ticket sales had soared beyond 15,000 a week before the race and were still rising. Lastyear, only 18,000 spectators attended all told.

ABOUT THIS TRACK

Donington Park was a famous racing venue before the war, but the original circuitwas lost when it was turned over to military use. It was revived by millionaire building contractor andracing fan Tom Wheatcroft nearly three decades later, and recently changed hands for a third time.

The track has a distinct dual character - most of the lap comprises sweeping medium-speed bends blending intoone another, made more technically challenging as the track drops off the hillside towards the Old Hairpin(actually a fast corner), and then climbs up again to the short back straight. Smooth riding and accuratechassis settings are at a premium in this section.

The last three corners are completely different - aslow left-right chicane followed by two first-gear hairpins linked by short straight. Here riders mustswitch from smooth to aggressive, while acceleration and braking performance are what matter from themotorcycle.

GP FACTS

Donington ParkCircuit Length: 2.500 miles / 4.023 kmLap Record: 1:32.661 - 97.120mph / 156.298km/h by Simon Crafar (Yamaha, 1998)2000 Race Winner: Valentino Rossi (Honda)2000 Race Average: 52:37.246 - 85.509mph / 137.614km/h2000 Fastest Race Lap: 1:36.895 - 90.086mph / 144.980km/h by Gary McCoy (Yamaha)2000 Pole Position: Alex Barros (Honda) 1:32.316
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Brent Avis
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