Biker Boy: Speak the language of MotoGP
10 terms to acquaint yourself with the sport
Each March signals the start of the phenomenon that is MotoGP.
It is a sport that is part ballet and part high-speed slalom skiing due to its grace and aggression.
I can just picture some families lamenting when the recent Qatar Grand Prix kicked off the 19-round MotoGP 2019.
For a few hours every Sunday, fathers, husbands and sons will stay glued to their screens as motorcycle icons take to challenging circuits at breakneck speeds.
Here are 10 MotoGP terms and nuggets of information that will hopefully allow the uninitiated to understand why the sport attracts such a loyal legion of fans.
- Top speed: 356.4 kmh achieved by Andrea Dovizioso, a factory Ducati rider, at the Italian Grand Prix last year.
- You cannot buy a MotoGP motorcycle. In the sport's premier class (MotoGP), the 1,000cc four-stroke motorcycles are prototypes and can each cost more than US$3 million (S$4.06m). Each bike must not weigh less than 157kg.
- Pole position: A rider gets the first position on the grid when he qualifies the fastest.
- Slicks are tyres used by MotoGP riders during a dry race. Unlike tyres used by road-legal motorcycles, slicks have no grooves. They are sticky when "warmed up" and ridden on dry surfaces. In a wet weather race, riders will pit-in to change to rain tyres.
- Kitty litter or gravel trap: These are run-off areas filled with gravel to slow down motorcycles during a crash.
- High and low sides: Terms used to describe the nature in which riders crash. A low side suggests losing control of the rear wheel and sliding out onto tarmac. A high side results in a rider being spectacularly ejected off his bike, which was common when two-stroke motorcycles previously lined the grid.
- Apex: The tightest point of a corner. Great for photos as riders are usually banked at extreme low angles before exiting bends or corners.
- Chicane: S-shaped bends, also known as esses.
- Slipstreaming: This overtaking manoeuvre is bravely executed towards the end of the straights. A rider will pull up close behind a leading competitor and make use of the change in pressure behind him to slingshot himself into the lead.
- Who is the best Grand Prix rider in all classes? Italy's Giacomo Agostini, with 122 wins and 15 World Championships. Second is Mr MotoGP himself and fellow Italian Valentino Rossi, with a close 115 victories (after the Qatar Grand Prix) and nine World Championships.