6 Sep 2010

Are Spanish riders outliers?

This season Spanish riders are taking the lead of the motorbike speed races world championship. Having passed half of the championship, the three categories (namely 125cc, Moto2 and Moto GP) are lead by Spanish Riders with a great advantage. Second riders in all categories are Spanish too. Is that normal? Does it mean that Spanish people can ride a motorbike faster than other nationalities?

Malcolm Gladwell, in his recent book outliers, posited that the key factor that determines that a pianist is a genius is the hours of training. He makes reference to a study in which two groups of pianists were compared. All of them were professional (or at least have the level to be professional). The first group have been trained the double than the second one. The conclusion of the mentioned study was that none of the pianists of the second group could compare their level to the pianists of the first group; the ones of the first group went a step forward. So they found evidence that, among professionals, training is more important than innate capabilities.

So, let’s come back to the case of Spanish riders. Is that normal? Does it mean that Spanish people can ride a motorbike faster than other nationalities? The answer for both questions is not. On average, they are simply more trained than the riders of other nationalities; or in Gladwell’s terms they are outliers!! An example of that is the Spanish championship for young riders (CEV). Obviously, it is important to mention that they also took advantage of the Valentino’s injury.

I take this opportunity to express condolences to the family of Tomizawa. It is a very hard new for all who follow the championship!

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