Guest Blog: Mat Oxley: A grand farce at Phillip Island

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


A grand farce at Phillip Island

Embarrassing. No other word for it, really. Well, apart from incompetence on the grandest scale. Pretty much everyone involved in the upper echelons of MotoGP was responsible for Sunday’s travesty of a race: Bridgestone, Dorna, the FIM, the Grand Prix Permanent Bureau, the Grand Prix Commission, IRTA, Race Direction, safety officer Franco Uncini and safety advisor Loris Capirossi. They all failed in their duty of care to the riders, putting them in all kinds of danger because they hadn’t done their jobs properly.

We all make mistakes, but this was several dozen well-paid, experienced professionals failing to spot a disaster in the making.

Phillip Island hosted its first Grand Prix in 1989. Ever since it’s been well known that the track eats tyres for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well, it eats the left side of the tyres, which is why asymmetric tyres were used there before pretty much any other racetrack, with the exception of Daytona, with its Stateside-style banking, taken at full speed with huge g-forces going through the tyres.

Anti-clockwise Phillip Island features seven left-handers, but it’s the last two lefts – Turns 11 and 12 – that really burn rubber. Taken in third and then fourth gear, the riders are building speed, using high lean angles and big handful of throttles as they fire out of 11, then lay it into Turn 12, where they need the fastest exit for the start/finish straight. The result is massive friction and thus sky-high tyre temperatures that can lead to delamination or tearing.

Bridgestone aren’t alone in suffering Island ignominy. It happened to Dunlop in Sunday’s Moto2 race (which was reduced by 50 per cent because the tyres wouldn’t last any longer) and it’s also happened to Pirelli in World Superbikes and Supersport.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Comments

Out of curiosity...

...who actually sits on/comprises Race Direction?

Does the Clerk of the Course have any role in this?

Thanks

Total votes: 48

Agreed

I have to agree so much with Mat. I was at the island and it was a joke. Because of the idiots running this sport, namely Carmelo and the dorna dingbats Moto Gp is going down the drain. No wonder stoner retired

Total votes: 57

???

I posted this earlier, but havent found/gotten an answer: was it known, by all, that going beyond 10 laps would result in a DQ? The penalty that MM was given doesnt warrant a DQ especially if no one was told that was the penalty.

And Max hit the nail on the head!

Total votes: 53

They were told

As I understand it, all of the teams were told verbally that staying out an extra lap would be black flagged.

Total votes: 48

Texas Tornado

Seems no-one thought to tell Colin that a Black Flag was the penalty...or am I reading his tweets wrong ? Pieces of paper being the vehicle of information in his pit.....

Total votes: 34

The riders all attended the

The riders all attended the same briefing...

Total votes: 42

What briefing?

It's been reported several times there was none, so which are you referring to?

Unless you mean the one on Friday before any issues surfaced.

Total votes: 45

Perfect, Mat. I too was

Perfect, Mat. I too was thinking of the farces of the past, especially the ones that ended badly, as I watched bad decision pile on top of bad decision. You really are the best writer now working in motorcycle road racing.

And 3B43, I've asked the same question about whether the penalties for missing the pit window were spelled out.

The deafening silence in response indicates to me very clearly that they weren't.

In effect, in throwing the black flag, Race Direction invoked the "God Clause" that every rulebook contains which allows race officials to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

Problem is, of course, that every time you invoke that clause, the rest of the rulebook becomes irrelevant.

Total votes: 41

And Pedrosa

I'd also like to know where the ruling is stated about riding over a white line on the exit of Pit lane and having to go back one place. Now just maybe this comes under taking shortcuts or something. However it's a stupid penalty that is hard to enforce and convey to the rider. If it's a safety issue then shouldn't the new penalty point system cover it?

We should probably note something here about Sykes, Guintoli and Monza. Are the rules the same in WSB and MotoGP about this?

Total votes: 34

Problem

The problem I have with the black flag, in this case, is that its like the death penalty...there's no going back! A time penalty, or ride through can be appealed/changed/etc. I cant see the #93 team taking that big a risk IF they knew a black flag/DQ would be the result.

Total votes: 45

Gameplan

I think they were planning to win the race when they really should have planned was to win the title.
Rookie mistake ( pun intended ).

Move on.

Total votes: 39

Funny

why farce? they all anticipated very good! like bridgestone said. very different opinions then. seems someone is talking with emotion maybe little hate even. maybe a fan even. its not bridgestone....

Total votes: 36

Mat's earned the right to

Mat's earned the right to speak with emotion on the matter. Not only has he competed against the best, he's been on the track during some of the darkest days in the sport. He's seen disasters from behind the bars, knows how they can come about, and recognizes the stench of this like only a racer, whose life depends on the people in positions of authority making good decisions, can.

Total votes: 39

Kooks Anonymous

Wow! Conspiracy theories much? This was all a plan to make sure the championship wasn't decided until the very last races?

Ok then...

Total votes: 33

LOL

You're late, I already threw that hypothesis out on another site. ;-)

Total votes: 29

riiiiiiiight....

....I can almost bet that typhoon Francisco is also part of the whole plan! :-P

Total votes: 37

Split team

After watching the reactions in Marquez's pit you can't say that no one in his team knew the penalty. David's article on that subject really made sense to me.

Total votes: 29

backslapping

So none of this emotional vitriol would have been written if we'd had another MM - JLo - DP procession with 2 or three passes in the early laps then settle in for the regular 'show' that is MotoGP. Would that have been preferred ? Instead we had a spectacle, riders changing bikes, some uniqueness, some real original excitement, yet still, the toys go out the pram for some writers.

Remember this is only bike racing. it's actually really not that important in the scheme of things.... try not to let it upset you so much :)

Total votes: 40

Gone are the days of

Gone are the days of protracted battles lap after lap. This round was dangerous for the riders but the entertainment value skyrocketed. I enjoyed it to the hilt so no complaints from me.

What fun is motorcycle racing if it is not exciting? I know that this race was exciting for a lot of wrong reasons but it was exciting nonetheless, and as I watch it for the entertainment I am happy we went through it without any harm to the riders [18 points deficit considered].

Total votes: 37

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