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Old 27 Jul 2017, 14:31 (Ref:3754724)   #1
Félix
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Félix should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridFélix should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Is it a sport?

(my first post in a loooooong time. I'm still following the sport; it's just not what it felt like 15 years ago when I was much younger and the world was different. Double-posted on the Mulsannes Corner FB page: I'm interested in what the community here thinks.)

For more than 10 years now, I've been struggling with the fact that what I/we love to follow is called motorsports. Sport. SPORT? Equivalency rules are always political.

-This year, LMP2 cars should have monopolised the podium - if the ACO hadn't made their fuel tank so comically small. Give them 90 or 100 liters like older LMP cars, GT cars and big road cars and a P1H couldn't have afforded to lose more than 20-30 minutes.
-The diesel equivalency was so far off, it could have been comical... if the way Pescarolo and others got royally screwed hadn't made me so angry. Can anyone tell me exactly how many times diesels had to be reined in from 2006 to 2013? I'm not the only one who noticed the class went from 25+ potentially front-running efforts to less than 5 during that time, right? There used to be half a dozen chassis manufacturers who would try their hand at the class; they've turned into efforts that eventually die because they can't realistically win, vaporware projects (Oreca 02 Peugeot, Epsilon Euskadi ee2, Wirth-HPD giant-killer, etc) and now appointed-manufacturer semi-spec second divisions.
-I understand part of it is just the nature of the sport: the manufacturers' engines are well developed and they always end up with big displacement, turbos and now electricity that just give them a huge torque advantage over the privateers' engines. Torque wins races. With the current GTE engine BOP, we're seeing how it should have been in an "equal" world now: since only manufacturers are involved, they go as far as neutering turbo engines so they tune down the bigger engines to match the smaller Porsche's torque curve. And even then, the better engines have more leeway for fuel economy and they break less often. The DPi equivalency is trying to get to the same point with the Gibson as a baseline, but I don't think it's even possible to adjust down the Cadillac V8's torque down; arguably, going that far to maintain a level playing field would be plain stupid...

But if it were really a sport, the cars would have to be completely equal and only the best would win. Unfortunately, our sport has a huge turnover where 80+% of the teams come and disappear completely over any given 5-year period. The ones who keep the sport going are rich dudes who want their very own class or BOP adjustment so they can get their podium - not the best athletes.

So Porsche appears to be leaving. I just hope the ACO manages to balance its classes so that more than one type of entrant can realistically win races. So that it feels like a sport where the result isn't predictable and influenced by politics. But there's always gonna be lots of politics involved...
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 14:58 (Ref:3754735)   #2
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Having classes not competing directly with each other doesn't make it any less of a sport. In football, the bottom league teams cannot compete for the top league title. That doesn't mean football isn't a sport. It means they have a class system. Motor racing is just unique in that it has the ability to run multiple classes at the same time. A Mini Cooper cannot win the Ring 24 outright, but it's still a sport.

Let's remember that diesel fuel tanks were WAY smaller than the petrol ones, and they refueled much slower. So is it fair that they chose a more energy dense fuel and got it taken away? Henri may have claimed the diesels had an advantage, but even against the petrol cars Pescarolo couldn't compete. The R8 was chained to a post in 2005, and people could cycle past it. Henri still couldn't beat them. I love Pescarolo, but Henri lost because no private team could ever compete with a factory team, no matter what fuel you put in the cars.

Motorsport is a sport. Classes do not change that.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 16:14 (Ref:3754761)   #3
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There are classes in boxing, judo, karate and MMA.

Ángel Nieto was a multiple-time motorcycle world champion in 50cc and 125cc. He wasn't strong enough to drive big bikes, but nobody was better than him on small bikes.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 16:39 (Ref:3754769)   #4
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But if it were really a sport, the cars would have to be completely equal and only the best would win.
Isn't that an oxymoron? Or does "best" here mean the driver/team?

Balance of performance means the BEST engine+car almost never wins.

I think it is a sport, but it is just more driven by non-human elements and then also politcs are an inherited part of it. Motor racing isn't the only sport either where equipment matters... skiing, horse racing, sailing etc.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 16:40 (Ref:3754770)   #5
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Félix should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridFélix should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
P1 is one class. Especially when it dips into the very low single digits. Do you seriously prefer sub-classes with trophies for everyone and using that as an excuse to make sure only 2 teams can realistically win the race? Hell, P2 is now allowed to be faster than P1 privateers managed to be in the last 5+ years. Why not give them a chance to win if they're flawless and all the top cars throw it away? Rebellion lost about 30 minutes to the factory teams in 2011-2015 over 24 hours; they would have won (and deserved it) in a race like this year's.

P2 even used to be equal to P1 - until losing most of the season's races to Porsche and Acura didn't suit Audi/the ACO (they were never in danger at Le Mans though).

The diesels had a 50 to 150 hp advantage over other P1s. There are direct quotes from people who were directly involved and can now speak openly about it. Former Peugeot drivers always mention a triple digit power advantage. And at that time, the ACO claimed they were a single class. Interestingly, they only ever gave a 50 hp break to Aston Martin.

My point is not really about debating the past or complaining about multi-class racing, it's about making the show akin to a sport where everyone who tries hard enough has a shot at winning. I believe a privateer spending around 10 millions and doing a flawless job should have a shot at winning if the (very scarce field of boring) factory hybrids crap out.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 16:54 (Ref:3754777)   #6
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Motor racing isn't the only sport either where equipment matters... skiing, horse racing, sailing etc.
Do you know of any other sport where a 10% equipment performance advantage is deemed acceptable? I know we're discussing a sport where that advantage can be bought for 30 to 200 million dollars, so theoretically it's not unfair... but come on! What we get is a house of cards that crumbles at least once a decade, when the manufacturers who have spent enough have had their turn at a win and leave without a care for what's left behind them except their "credible" win.

That's very far from a sport where the best athletes who have put the most effort into their preparation and done a good job on the day of the actual competition stand a realistic chance, with room for unpredictability, upsets and great (and believable) underdog stories.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 17:11 (Ref:3754783)   #7
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yall are caring too much.

just enjoy watching cars circulate and stuff like that. makes it much more enjoyable the less you think about it.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 17:12 (Ref:3754785)   #8
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Originally Posted by Félix View Post
Do you know of any other sport where a 10% equipment performance advantage is deemed acceptable? I know we're discussing a sport where that advantage can be bought for 30 to 200 million dollars, so theoretically it's not unfair... but come on! What we get is a house of cards that crumbles at least once a decade, when the manufacturers who have spent enough have had their turn at a win and leave without a care for what's left behind them except their "credible" win.

That's very far from a sport where the best athletes who have put the most effort into their preparation and done a good job on the day of the actual competition stand a realistic chance, with room for unpredictability, upsets and great (and believable) underdog stories.
Horse racing is probably closer to 99% given the horse is the one that does the work - the jokey just throws up after the weigh in to shave off a few grams.

How do you define the percentage like that anyway? If you give the best golfer in the world terrible clubs, he won't win. Tennis, if you give him a terrible racket, he's out. Tour de France on a £30 mountain bike? What about round the world sailing? That's expensive. Red Bull Air Race? So how do you define that? Any sportsman with a bad bit of equipment is not going to win.

You also go on to use the word athlete. Well snooker players are not athletes. But snooker is a sport. So are we not going to say that isn't a sport? Given that town planning was once an olympic sport, I'd suggest that the word sport is not as solidly defined as some would like. You could argue any competition where a skill is judged and prizes awarded can be a sport.

So is motor racing a sport? Absolutely. Does it actually matter? Not really. You can call it a turnip if you want. Motor-turniping. It'll still be the same and nobody will stop watching it.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 17:38 (Ref:3754790)   #9
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“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

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Old 27 Jul 2017, 18:08 (Ref:3754804)   #10
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“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

― Ernest Hemingway
I could sense this quote coming. The quote is misattributed to Hemingway.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 18:13 (Ref:3754805)   #11
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I could sense this quote coming. The quote is misattributed to Hemingway.
I find it entertaining when at least 6 different people are credited with it and NONE actually wrote it that phrase, if you'd like to be pedantic about it. The common one is Ken Purdy and it WAS NOT written that way and he was referring to another's writings of 10 years prior.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 18:14 (Ref:3754806)   #12
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Originally Posted by Félix View Post
Do you know of any other sport where a 10% equipment performance advantage is deemed acceptable? I know we're discussing a sport where that advantage can be bought for 30 to 200 million dollars, so theoretically it's not unfair... but come on! What we get is a house of cards that crumbles at least once a decade, when the manufacturers who have spent enough have had their turn at a win and leave without a care for what's left behind them except their "credible" win.

That's very far from a sport where the best athletes who have put the most effort into their preparation and done a good job on the day of the actual competition stand a realistic chance, with room for unpredictability, upsets and great (and believable) underdog stories.
I'm still confused what is the thing you want. So that athletes (+team) makes most of the performance or engineers? Only way to achieve that is a spec class. At the same time you want it to be more genuine "sport" and best to win. With aggressive balance of performance the best usually isn't the best and rarely things are 100% equal unless the balancing is purely scientific based (like the EoT in LMP1-H), instead someone always has an advantage, but it is not advantage they necessarily deserve because of better engineering.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 18:31 (Ref:3754813)   #13
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Originally Posted by deggis View Post
I could sense this quote coming. The quote is misattributed to Hemingway.
Care to elaborate so I don't misattribute anymore?

Edit: I see broadrun helped me here already and kinda made a point I was seeking.

Last edited by fieldodreams79; 27 Jul 2017 at 18:37.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 18:39 (Ref:3754815)   #14
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Fact is that in '05 that Pescarolo had the rules heavily tilted in his favor and was racing semi-factory teams from Audi. So what should he have expected when Audi came back with a full factory program and a car built to take advantage of the same rules that Henri did the previous year?

Also, HPD and especially Porsche were dumping LMP1-level money and resources into LMP2. How was that fair to private teams, for whom the LMP2 regs were intended to cater to?

Only good aspect of it is that it created good racing. But it lead the ACO to do things like ban factory teams from LMP2 and turn it into a pro-am class. And it also lead to the ACO catering to factory teams to run in LMP1.

Like them or loathe them, Audi nevertheless supported top level LMP racing on a basically continuous basis for almost 20 years. But even they called it quits when they saw no light at the end of the tunnel due to spiraling costs and diminishing ROI. Porsche are seeing the same thing, so to soon will likely Toyota.

I do believe in racing being a proving ground for road relevance, be it racing GT cars or touring cars, or even prototypes.

However, that landscape has changed. Racing over the years has become more and more entertainment driven. And teams and car makers have become less and less prone to trying to play things out, and want results instantly.

You don't have to like it--and there's plenty that I don't like about it--but it is what it is, and there's not a whole lot we can do about it.
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Old 27 Jul 2017, 19:04 (Ref:3754827)   #15
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I could sense this quote coming. The quote is misattributed to Hemingway.
Good though.

It remains a sport. Sometimes that is only between the tricolour and the chequered, but yes it is.
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