A: They were the only five races of the year in which all scheduled participants made the start.
That's less than a third of the season with full attendance.
As of 2012 there will be more bikes on the grid, which tackles the problem of a depleted field on Sundays. Maybe, however, the issue could be approached from another angle.
Racing at high speed, accidents will happen. If they didn't, then we'd see the premier class grid packed with riders wearing the shorts, polo shirt and baseball cap combo which has become de rigeur since the late nineties. I suppose at least the necessity to wear a helmet on raceday means that Andrea Dovizioso's porkpie hat is locked away from public view for at least half an hour each Sunday afternoon, but that is very much a tiny slither of silver in the cloud of collarbone breaks, damaged metatarsals and the one-two punch of a tibia AND fibia fracture.
All this means that safety is always an issue, and will always be improvable. The sport is probably the safest that it has ever been, although we are still waiting for the biggest development since the back and chest protector to become both ubiquitous and 100 per cent effective.
MotoGP legend Barry Sheene was one of the pioneers of larger than life personalities in road racing, but his contribution to safety may be one of the most important aspects of his legacy. A crude adaptation of old helmet visors to serve as a back protector really led the way for a more inventive approach to injury prevention and showed a kind of thinking ahead of its time.
Nowadays, of course, invention and development comes not from the riders but from specialist equipment companies. Alpinestars, Dainese... engineers and testers taking an idea from drawing board to grid. The big Rubik's cube of the modern era is the collarbone fracture, with no manufacturer yet making the final twists to create an 'all-green' wall.
Dainese began 'live testing' their D-Tech airbag in the middle of 2007, recruiting Marco Simoncelli as one of their first case studies. Few were aware that the technology was even being used, until a free practice crash and a surprise inflation sent journalists scurrying to the Italian leathers truck to ask some questions, receive the promotional DVD and head back to the media centre to get informed.
This feature is now used by almost all riders in the premier class. A notable exception is Ben Spies, who says that whilst he acknowledges the benefits, he requires more mobility on the bike than other riders and feels restricted by the airbag.
Freedom of movement isn't the only problem though. We have yet to see either the D-Tech airbag or the Alpinestars equivalent activate itself in a race. Dani Pedrosa's big crash at Le Mans, for example, didn't quite fall within the activation parameters of the system and he ended up with another broken collarbone.
I expect the Alpinestars version of Dr Chris Leatt's rider neckbrace, debuted by JD Beech in the Red Bull Rookies Cup back in 2007, to make an appearance at some point in the next year, although the application adjustment from off-road to roadracing will require some tweaks (as will the patent, which the inventor has made watertight with little intention of transferring the design to MotoGP).
The difficulties in making a 100 per cent effective piece of equipment is ably illustrated by the brake lever protectors compulsory for 2012. There are fears that in some cases the rider may be trapped by the attachment and critics note that a big brake lever-induced accident has not been seen in the premier class for years.
Safety equipment has its faults and circumstances, which in a way only emphasises one thing:
Riding can be made completely safe. Crashing can't.