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Behind the 1,986-page GP stat bible - now available to the public

By Guy Procter -

General news

 03 April 2013 10:37

Previously only available to professionals, the FIM MotoGP Results 1949-2012 is the 2000-page book that's the ultimate reference tool of motorcycle Grand Prix racing.

Published under the auspices of Dorna (MotoGP) and the FIM, and detailing all the results and details of every grand prix from 1949 to 2012 inclusive, it's compiled annually and the new edition is available to the public now, priced €35 from here. We swear by it.

To mark the issue of the new edition of this extraordinary book we spoke to author, originator and ultimate MotoGP stat-o, Werner Haefliger.

How did the book first come about?

The story of the FIM MotoGP™ Results Guide began 30 years ago in… Formula 1. At that time, I was the Press Officer for a sponsor.

During the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in 1983, two Italians qualified on the first row. The journalists in the media centre wondered when such an historical event had last happened. It took them more than one hour to find the answer: the Grand Prix de France 1953!

For me, a light switched on in my mind. It was my starting point to develop comprehensive statistics for journalists in small and handy notebooks for each F1 Grand Prix. Based on their success, I was asked if I accepted the challenge to create the same for the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix. I started to look at motorcycle racing history in 1986 from a blank piece of paper.

How difficult was it to compile?

It was hard work as – unlike in F1 – the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) didn't really have proper archives before 1960.

I had to research numerous media, read newspapers, magazines, records, listen to old radio broadcasts in different places in Europe to find out thousands of missing or uncertain detailed information as often not published or wrong (for example times, number of starts/finishers/accurate spelling and nationalities of riders/name of bikes just to mention a few).

I contacted dozens of people around the world (mainly former circuit directors) to help me gather piece by piece the missing information. A considerable amount of work but really exciting!

How long did it take?

I never counted my time, but the project took about 7000 hours. Most of my work was done during my spare time and in my holidays. The first edition was published in 1987. It was a 500-page book with basic results. Over the years and after an accumulation of data, it reached 2,356 pages and a weight of 1.5 kg in 2003! Ten years later, with approx. 40% additional contents, it now amounts 1,968 pages and 800g.

I dedicated the book in living memory to a significant person of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix scenery: Maurice Büla, a Swiss who died in 2005. He was probably the holder of the record number of Grand Prix attendances, first as a rider and passenger and later as a photographer. His memory and sources were immense. Among the many of sources I have been digging in, his contribution proved to be most important.

But there was also one person and publication who were key: Mandy Kirk from MCN.
Mandy Kirk went to your archives and photocopied all race reports of ‘The Motor Cycle’ and MCN from 1949 till 1975.

How do you get a 2000-page book published?

We use the world’s leading producers of the Holy Bible – Jongbloed in The Netherlands – in order to ensure the best possible compromise between light paper and print quality. Apt for what people call the Bible of MotoGP!

• Available now from www.fim-motogp-results.com
For your chance to win one of 10 copies, click here.