MotoGP

When motorcycle racers were properly mad

366780C3-9054-499D-9BFD-E86C1D94B542.jpeg

The politically incorrect class clown of the 1980s, Randy Mamola, will be inducted into the Moto GP Hall of Fame at the Austin Texas round of the 2018 season. Thoroughly deserved. Mamola typified the fun side of motorcycle racing. Not spouting carefully scripted messages for sponsors but showing a genuine side to a sport where lives were properly at risk. The 500cc 2-stroke era of the 1980s was known as the ‘unrideables’ such was the erratic behaviour of the machines. They were pioneers. Experimental rocketmen. While Mamola never won the championship he did finish second in multiples seasons and was bestowed a Ferrari Testarossa by team owners, the Castiglioni brothers, after he managed to get the hopelessly out of its depth Italian Cagiva on the podium in the mixed condition 1988 Belgian 500cc GP. I watched that race. He rode out of his skin. Congratulations Randy! Nice to see the left-field choice get the accolades.

Zip It or be Zapped

EE607F58-63C2-419F-8427-7C4C0E6A322F.jpeg

It seems that everywhere we turn these days someone else is raising a flag to suggest “we need to move with the times.”  What are “the times?” Whose times are we required to move for? Mine? Yours? Theirs? A chat on social media the other day raised the conversation of an HR director saying that he would not sign off on a hire who didn’t agree with his subjective view over a trivial subject. He argued that it was for the best interests of diversity and inclusion not to hire someone who wasn’t offended by said subject. CM retorted “so if I don’t agree with your thinking on a topic which is completely unrelated to the job task that I might be hypothetically the most qualified for, you’ll sink it on that alone…sounds like a totalitarian power trip.” This confirmed the ‘unconscious bias, conscious bias‘ piece on HR last week.’ 2+2=5. HR departments are becoming all powerful autocrats.

It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry! The conversation went further to suggest that I simply must accept change on the grounds of diversity. That word is chucked around as loosely as a Casanova saying “I love you” to his multiple conquests. It simply seeks to force compliance. Surely all things work better when there is mutual buy-in rather than threatening to burn people at the stake. Why is my subjectivity any more or less valuable than someone else’s?

The idea of forcing conformity is dangerous ground. As long as one’s views don’t openly impact others why should it matter? Why should HR apparatchiks use bullying behaviour which goes against the grain of every appropriate workplace behaviour training seminar staff are required to take? Well it is only “some” behaviour. So much for equality in the workplace.

Just like the same sex marriage (SSM) debate. Anyone with a rainbow screen saver could proudly display it in the office without attracting a whimper because they were ‘on message’. Anyone that didn’t believe it and had a “Vote NO” as a computer screen background would have been summoned before HR for hate speech and reprimanded or worse, sacked. Is that freedom of opinion? Is that diversity? Or inclusion? Accept or face the consequences is hardly a way to encourage it. Diversity and inclusion only creates division and exclusion because only some people are allowed to voice free speech.  When the government funded Diversity Council tells Australian workers that the use of the word ‘guys’ is offensive then just how far are we willing to trade everyday freedoms and cultural norms? If one is triggered by the use of the word ‘guys’ or a preferred pronoun then they need a shrink not an HR department to help them.

The sad reality is that diversity should be won on the grounds of the argument rather than legislation. Just like the F1 race queen ban from this year. It doesn’t much matter to CM personally on what the F1 wants to do. Go on the MotoGP website and there is a “Paddock GirlssectionTo suddenly reverse a decision it so actively promotes would be utter hypocrisy. While the need to halt the objectification of women argument is bandied about, the women who do it are clearly happy to be objectified for a price. Instead of viewers being told to “get with the times” shouldn’t they be hammering the message to the umbrella girls to tell them they’re letting down their own side? Could it be they can exploit their beauty for some decent coin because they don’t share offense over the issue? Their looks are a virtue in their eyes. Are they wrong to use it their advantage? Would a Harvard MBA graduate apply to McDonalds for a cash register role so as to check his or her privelege to those that weren’t so lucky to study there?

Whether one likes it or not why not let sponsors decide how they want to spend their ad dollars and let consumers bury them if they find the use of advertising across a cleavage as “not with the times”? Why state control? Casey Stoner ended up marrying his pit girl and has a wonderful family now. If 10% of teams decided to keep pit girls but got 75% of the TV coverage before the start of the race could you blame them? Advertising is literally all about ‘exposure’. Or would race control demand the camera operators avoid them?

Further to that, perhaps F1 should ban the popular cockpit radio transmissions of drivers like Kimi Raikkonen who drop the F-bomb every other lap. Or is profanity now ‘in with the times’?

Should the forthcoming Tokyo Motor Show ban the use of scantily clad women standing next to cars? Last year Porsche, VW and Audi had several slick cut male models parading their products. Ladies were lining up to take selfies with these foreign himbos. If not for objectification, then what? Girls could be heard saying “cho kakkoi” (so handsome). As a male was I feeling insulted and triggered? No. I figured it was time to sign up for the gym, visit Hugo Boss for a sharp suit and book an appointment at a $300 hair stylist after I got back in shape. If I had made a song and dance about feeling uncomfortable at handsome men being treated like slabs of meat would I be granted the same rights to being offended? Not for a second.

Should pretty women be banned from starring in adverts?  Cosmetics companies have products that are pitched pretty much solely toward women but no one bats an eyelid when Giselle pouts a lipstick. Luxury goods stores also cater predominantly to women. No shortage of flesh showing off shoes, handbags or miniskirts. Why no outrage? Should Subaru be raked over coals for targeting same sex couples in its adverts? No. If it feels that is a market it wishes to tap then it should feel free to push for it. If I was offended then I could simply refuse to buy an Impreza WRX. I shouldn’t have a right to tell Subaru who it can and can’t sell to. That’s accepting diversity. Not enforcing my view of the world on others with respect to Subaru. Choice.

Put simply why should the subjective opinions of people (within reason) be such that we must comfort the wowsers at all times? Yarra Council is telling it’s 1,000 staff it mustn’t use the word “Australia Day” to refer to Janury 26, a Day celebrated since 1815! Aussie nurses and midwives are being told to check their white privelege and admit their colonial roots should a patient demand so. Shouldn’t the safe delivery of children be the only priority than have a “code of conduct” to force behaviours that have probably never if ever been an issue in decades? Bad bedside manner for healthcarers is one thing less likely to do with race, gender or sexual orientation than individual attitudes.

Still the message is zip it or be zapped. Next time you’re being told it is for diversity start running for the hills. Your subjective opinion is as equal as anyone elses provided you don’t disagree with the Marxist’s definition of ‘with the times

 

Equal pay for equal work

42C16F71-A4C3-426F-827C-882947E5F06A.jpeg

Australian Channel 9 TV Today Show host Lisa Wilkinson has quit the station after pay negotiations broke down. Her request to have her salary matched to that of her male side kick Karl Stefanovic was knocked back. Stefanovic is reportedly on a $6mn three year deal, contracted when he was about to quit and join another station. Call it unfair or whatever you will but Wilkinson was still paid ($1.1mn) but appeared on fewer shows than Stefanovic .The network upped it to $1.8mn (with the potential it would cause retrenchments) but it was not accepted by her. She walked to defend the gender pay gap to join a new show where she is paid 3x the salary of the male host. So the gender pay crusader is ok with earning more for equal work. How soon we forget that the station being pilloried for not paying fairly made Jana Wendt the top paid announcer 30 years ago. Commercial decision.

MotoGP is a great example of why equal pay for equal work isn’t always so simple. The Ducati Factory Team has two riders – a newly signed €25m 2-yr contract former 5x world champ Jorge Lorenzo and a €1.5mn pa 1x world champ Andrea Dovisioso. Now Dovi is in shooting distance of his first ever MotoGP crown while his overpaid team mate is ranked 8th with patchy performance. While no doubt the pay gap for the same work (riding a motorcycle as fast as possible and not crashing) will be addressed somewhat, satellite team rider Scott Redding has to “pay” for his seat. Not get paid, but pay. So much for equal pay! Yet Redding has made a conscious choice on the basis he performs and his fortunes change. He hasn’t demanded a €25mn deal because he’d be laughed at even if technically fair. Yes, the reality is that “performance” matters. If you’re a better rider, TV cameras are zoomed in on your sponsors for more of the race. That’s why the pay gap exists. Sponsors get their lick. Same job, unequal pay.

We heard similar arguments around the pay differences between the male and female national US soccer teams. The point was made that the women were more successful than the men (true) so it was absurd they were paid less.  The realities were simple. The women were paid healthy salaries whether they played or sat on the sidelines – win, lose or draw. The men were geared to pay on performance and those who were dropped on playing badly didn’t get a dime. Once again, as professional sports goes, male sports tend to be much better paid because of the revenues they attract (which is a reflection of commerciality). Lionel Messi earns 40mn euro a year. Is he worth 100x that of the highest paid female player, Alex Morgan. Well if you paid Messi $400k he probably wouldn’t play. It’s just the world of professional sports. Perhaps all players should be on $40m per year after all equal work, equal pay right? How would losing teams be able to attract superstars to help them win championships (they’re not in it to lose) if they paid them the same wage? They’d remain at the bottom of second division and go out of business because they couldn’t afford equal pay.

To turn the argument on its head, perhaps male models should have the right to protest that female supermodels absolutely trounce them for pay. Only three male models earn over $1mn while 5 times as many supermodels earn it. In the lower echelons female models get paid much more than the men. Probably because the companies that wish to advertise think their brands get more impact by using women! No problem – a commercial choice.

While there is no doubt that pay equality for the same work is fair in theory, the idea that women are deliberately discriminated against from a pure economic standpoint is irrational. If companies could hire women to do the same work as men for 25% less, why would any business hire men? If you work at Starbucks or as a bank clerk, on the same seniority, hours, effectiveness and efficiency then absolutely the pay should be equal .

For jobs that have equal output from equal time then absolutely equal pay is warranted. However workplace discrimination is an evil in almost every firm. Do we have half yearly evaluations where everyone gets the same grade and same bonus? Or do firms try to keep the best performers by incentivizing them to keep bringing in more dollars. For the record my top salesperson (female) in my former career was the best paid of all – gender irrelevant – output relevant. No complaints.

So we can howl at the gender pay gap but let’s get real with what is unfair and what isn’t. There is an idea that all have a right to equal pay but I will defend every woman who earns more than me if she legitimately beats my results – wait a minute I already did.

Monstering the Red Bull war?

IMG_0460.JPG

Today’s motorsport sponsorship is now the domain of the energy drink makers. Long gone are the tobacco sponsors. Race teams were synonymous with their cigarette brands – Marlboro McLaren, Rothmans Honda and Lucky Strike Suzuki. While tobacco sponsorship was banned for promoting unhealthy habits one wonders when carbonated energy drinks will meet the same fate?

Monster has been the company experiencing the fastest growth. While Red Bull holds the top share (43%) , Monster has taken 39% of the market in 2015 up from around 12% in 2006.

IMG_0462.PNG

MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi is sponsored by Monster. A yellow ‘Rossi’ version of the drink is sold amongst the other Monster flavours. If this convenience store is any guide, Rossi Monster is all that seems to be selling in the energy drink market.

Angel Nieto passes away

IMG_0428.JPG

13 time motorcycle world champion Angel Nieto has passed away at the age of 70 after suffering injuries in a quad bike accident on July 26. Nieto won 13 titles in the 50cc and 125cc classes. His superstitious beliefs meant he referred to his tally of championships as ’12+1′. He was the first Spanish rider to race in the world championship and the first Spaniard to win the world championship title.

Record setting pensioner

IMG_0238.JPG

You have to hand it to Valentino ‘The Doctor’ Rossi, the 38-yo pensioner scrapping it with kids almost half his age. I’m an unashamed fan as I have been since 1996 when he was in the 125cc class. He managed to win the Dutch GP in Assen today in a typical strategic race, weighing up and wearing down his competition. 9-time world champ, 115 wins and the only rider to win races across a 20-year career. It is no wonder he’s paid €20mn per annum given the fact he hasn’t lost his edge. Sure he isn’t winning with the ease of his youth but he’s still majorly competitive. He is still in the hunt for a 10th championship. Forza Vale

IMG_0239.JPG

Pint-sized beat the Pensioner who beat the Poleman

image.jpeg

What an epic race. It was more than expectations. 110,000 delirious fans lighting yellow flares and screaming love for their hometown hero, who makes a special helmet for each home race.  However the gentleman of the paddock, Dani Pedrosa, showed that a hot track and his pint size were a formidable mix on the day, edging out home favorite Valentino Rossi and The record pole setter Jorge Lorenzo.

Motorcycle racing is a sport that throws up so much more variables than F-1.  Weather, track temp, suspension setting and  rider skill/bravery to push a 270hp 360km/h missile to its limits. With the switch to Michelin tyres in 2016, Pedrosa has had a pig of a time. Because he has a weight many women would envy, the wet races and mild track temps experienced so far this year means he can’t get enough heat into the tyres to get the grip to compete. This race he came from 7th until the tyres started working at the mid point before he carved up the field and won by a couple of seconds.

Moto 2 was also a feast with hometown hero 19yo Lorenzo Baldasarri (a Rossi protege) coming from a distant second to catch up the leader Alex Rins to win his first ever race. He has huge talent for becoming a future champion.

Another Italian in Moto 3, Enea Bastianini, was pipped at the post by the likely future champ Brad Binder of Sth Africa. Moto 3 is perhaps the hardest class. They are in some respects the bravest. With tiny 250cc engines, the lead changes constantly as they rely on sheer corner speed on skinny tyres and slip streaming.

This weekend I ticked off something from my bucket list. It was so good it is worth ticking off again. Is it in the rules to double dip?