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Falls 2003: Who spent more time off the bike than on it?

Falls 2003: Who spent more time off the bike than on it?

Falls 2003: Who spent more time off the bike than on it?

It is a part of the sport that people never really want to see and then cannot help but watch when it happens.

The statistics for the number of crashes throughout the 2003 MotoGP season may look like a series of numbers but inside the data hides pain and injury. Nevertheless while the list of falls reveals some of the sadder and less glorious moments of the season it also divulges a few interesting facts and pinpoints those guilty parties who cranked up their respective team's budgets over the eight months.

Valentino Rossi is World Champion for numerous reasons; one of those is that the 24 year old only crashed once in over 80 hours of racing, practice and qualification. For the record the Italian departed from his machine during free practice for the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring. At the other end of the scale in the premier class was departing former World Superbike star Noriyuki Haga who fell 17 times from his Aprilia during a difficult season for both him and his team-mate WSB Champion Colin Edwards who fell eight times including the memorable fireball at the Sachsenring.

Another former WSB number one, Troy Bayliss, crashed the new Ducati 15 times on his MotoGP debut season while the most experienced grand prix rider of them all, Brazilian Alex Barros showed the depth of the task that faced him with the Yamaha by hitting the deck on 14 occasions. In contrast to Rossi, and signifying just how close the riveting 250cc Championship chase actually was, new title-holder Manuel Poggiali fell 16 times in his quest for the crown. Even on the day he won the Championship at Valencia in Spain, he was lucky to walk away from a spectacular accident in the morning warm-up.

Not surprisingly it's the ultra competitive 125cc class with so many young riders that led the way with race crashes. One hundred and fifteen 125cc riders crashed during races this year compared to 86 in the 250´s and 75 in MotoGP.

The honour of the ‘rider that slipped off the most in 2003' goes to 125cc debutant 15-year-old Frenchman Mike di Meglio who crashed no less than 19 times. Even the best get it wrong and Dani Pedrosa suffered a season-ending prang less than one week after lifting his Championship in Australia.

Overall in 16 grand prix events, including practice and qualifying in all three categories, there were 705 fallers, which is an average of 44 fallers per event. That is the highest number for the last ten years and maybe hints at the increasing standards of competition across the classes with everybody pushing harder to find the limit.

Le Mans witnessed the most crashes with 72 fallers during the French Grand Prix. It was a wet miserable Saturday at Le Mans that really caught out the riders. Eleven 125cc, six 250cc and six MotoGP riders crashed in the morning practice while in the final afternoon qualifying session there were seven 125cc, four 250cc and only two MotoGP fallers. Welkom provided the lowest number with just 23 crashes.

MotoGP, 2003

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