After another epic season of racing, MCN’s sports team of Michael Guy (Sports Editor), Simon Patterson (MotoGP reporter) and Oli Rushby (Superbike reporter) sat down to discuss some of the biggest thrills and spills of the season.
It’s been a year of huge action across all classes – and it wasn’t an easy decision to cut down the thousands of spectacular falls we’ve seen this season to a mere five. Of course, all the riders involved were largely unhurt in these incidents and able to reflect on them afterwards. Here’s what we think - but feel free to disagree with us in the comments!
5th - Leon Haslam and James Ellison, Oulton Park
In at number five is this incident between James Ellison and Leon Haslam from the Oulton Park round of British Superbikes earlier this year. A mechanical problem for Ellison meant his McAMS Yamaha completely cut out as he and rival Leon Haslam were on the charge down from Druids to Lodge at Oulton Park.
While Haslam had a split second to notice his rival start to slow and was able to take some form of evasive action, it wasn’t enough as he clipped the rear of the YZF-R1 to fall at high speed.
Fortunately, he was relatively lucky to avoid his machine as it ricocheted off the armco barrier, smashing into hundreds of pieces. Despite being battered and bruised, Haslam was uninjured in the crash.
4th - Le Mans Moto3 pile-up
Seeing a crash in the Moto3 championship isn’t that an unusual event – and it’s not even that strange to see two or three of the series’ racers fall together, normally thanks to an ultra-aggressive move that was only ever going to end one way!
But to see an incredible 16 riders all fall at once is something special even for the lightweight class – yet that’s exactly what happened earlier this season at Le Mans, when oil from Adam Norrodin’s crashed machine coated the Bugatti circuit’s turn six just as the race leaders reached it on the following lap…
What happened next was nothing short of carnage, with most of the race ending up in an untidy heap of shattered carbon fibre and expensively damaged KTMs, Mahindras and Hondas.
However, while the disastrous event might have reopened the debate on whether crashed machines should be allowed to re-join a race without at least a cursory inspection from marshals, miraculously no one was hurt in the fall, with a red flag stoppage allowing the entire field to re-start the race only minutes later.
3rd - Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea, Misano
This incident between Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea saw fans left with their hearts in their mouths during the final stages of one of the best World Superbike races of the year in Misano.
With long-time race leader Michael van der Mark having crashed out after suffering an issue with his Pirelli rear tyre, the series protagonists were left to battle it out for the win.
Davies had already had a little moment with Rea pushing him hard, but as they came into the final half of the last lap, it was one slip up too many for the Welshman as he crashed out at slow speed. However, the duo were racing so close together Rea had nowhere to go, hit Davies square in the back and crashed himself.
Rea was able to remount to finish third, and while Davies made a valiant effort to get back on his bike too, he'd realise he was a little too sore to continue. Further medical assessment would show he'd fractured a lumbar vertebrae. After the race, Rea was straight to see how Davies was. The Welshman returned at the next round in Laguna Seca and won the opening race.
2nd - Jack Miller at Le Mans
Marc VDS Honda rider Jack Miller was lucky to walk away largely uninjured from Le Mans after a monster crash during Saturday’s free practice four that saw him catapulted into a wall after losing control of his bike at the 180mph turn one on the Le Mans circuit.
Losing the front only for it to then find grip again, Miller was shot off the track and straight into the circuit perimeter wall, where both he and bike fell, cartwheeling through the gravel trap with the Australian lucky to bounce clear of the machine as it disintegrated itself.
However, with typical Miller coolness, he downplayed the accident afterwards, even managing to jump onto his spare bike only minutes later in qualifying and lap the French circuit even faster!
“It was a nasty crash and I’m lucky to walk away with just some bruises. I had some locking on the front through turn one which sent me towards the wall and when I saw I wasn’t going to stop in time I let go before I hit the wall. I was happy to get back on the bike for qualifying after not feeling 100% after the crash though!”
1st - Leon Haslam, Brands Hatch
This is the crash that ended Leon Haslam's hopes of securing the 2017 British Superbike title. It's probably one of the most talked about and watched crashes of the year given its dramatic nature. Heading down towards Brands Hatch's infamous Hawthorn bend, Haslam was travelling at 173mph when he pulled his front brake lever and realised there was nothing there.
Stamping on the rear brake to kill some speed, the JG Speedfit Kawasaki star was left with no choice but to jump off the machine. Hitting the barrier hard, Haslam broke an ankle and wrist in the impact, but despite the injuries demanded to be taken up to the grid to congratulate Byrne on winning the title. Less than a month later, he was back in action himself, testing at Jerez.
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