Phillip Island, Australia
2013 Phillip Island MotoGP Saturday Round Up: A Primer On The Dry Flag-to-Flag MotoGP Race, And Apportioning Blame For The Debacle
There should have been plenty to talk about after qualifying at Phillip Island. Jorge Lorenzo's stunning fast lap, Marc Marquez getting on the front row for the 11th time in his rookie season, Valentino Rossi's return to the front row, and his excellent race pace, Scott Redding's fractured wrist ending his title hopes, so much to talk about, and more. But one subject dominates MotoGP right now: tires, the incompetence of the tire suppliers, and the stopgap solutions put in place to deal with it.
Shortly after qualifying had finished, Race Direction announced that the Moto2 race would be shortened to 13 laps, and the MotoGP race would be shortened to 26 laps, but that the riders would have to come in for a compulsory pit stop to change rear tires (or in practice, swap bikes), and that nobody would be allowed to do more than 14 laps on a rear tire. (How they intend to enforce that is a mystery, unless any rider exceeding the number of laps gets black flagged, which would be the ultimate irony). So Phillip Island makes history once again: in 2006 it was the scene of the first wet-weather flag-to-flag race; in 2013, it will host the first ever flag-to-flag race held in dry conditions.
Why a flag-to-flag race? Race Direction had three options: shorten the race to 14 laps, run two 13-lap races, or run a flag-to-flag race with a compulsory tire swap. The first option would have been the safest, but would have left the TV broadcasters with a half hour or so of dead air to fill, and would have cost Dorna money in TV rights. The second option would have overrun the allotted TV slot, and the chaos of having to line up on the grid for two starts would have been time consuming, placed a lot of extra stress on engines and clutches, and would have thrown the rest of the schedule for the support races into disarray. Two grids would effectively double the chances of something going wrong. The final option, a flag-to-flag race, was a known quantity and catered for in the rules, though it had never been done in the dry before.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after Saturday's qualifying at Phillip Island:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Phillip Island:
The lack of tire testing prior to the Phillip Island round has caught both control tire companies out. Race Direction has decided to shorten the Moto2 race from 25 to just 13 laps, while the MotoGP race will now include a compulsory pit stop to swap bikes, and the race length has been cut by one lap from 27 to 26 laps. In addition, the MotoGP riders are prohibited from using the softer option rear tire, and will be forced to use the harder option. Both decisions were taken on safety grounds, after it was found that neither the Moto2 spec Dunlop nor the MotoGP spec Bridgestone can handle race distance on the newly-resurfaced tarmac. The lighter, less powerful Moto3 bike are not affected, and the Moto3 race will run the scheduled length.
The compulsory pit stop to swap bikes, turning the race into a dry-weather flag-to-flag race for the first time in MotoGP history. This will be a repeat for the Australian circuit, as it also hosted the first flag-to-flag race where riders actually swapped bikes back in 2006, the year after the rules were first introduced. It turned out then that Phillip Island's narrow pit lane made the bike swaps rather hazardous, and the rules laid out for Sunday's MotoGP race will only make a tricky situation much, much worse. Bridgestone is unable to guarantee the safety of the tires beyond 14 laps, and so that means that all 23 MotoGP riders will be in the pits between the end of lap 12 and the end of lap 14. There is a good chance that the vast majority of the riders will come in either on lap 12 or lap 13, however, to give them the best shot at maintaining their position. With the dry surface dictating the lap time, there is no advantage to be gained from staying out an extra lap, or pitting early. An attempt to mitigate the danger, the speed limited area of the pit lane has been extended. However, this wil see bikes both braking closer to the racing line to pit, and rejoining at slower speed on the outside of the extremely fast first corner.
Full report and results below:
Full report and results below:
Dani Pedrosa has made use of the final chance to work on race settings in the final free practice session at Phillip Island to top the time sheets by a meager five hundredths of a second from compatriot Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo finished two tenths ahead of Marc Marquez in third while Valentino Rossi was a tenth further back, the familiar top four are looking like the riders to beat come race day.
Cal Crutchlow ended the session nearly half a second behind fellow Yamaha rider Rossi and only a tenth ahead of his team mate Bradley Smith in sixth. Nicky Hayden, Alvaro Bautista and the CRT pairing of Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards rounded out the top ten. The riders spent a lot of time trying different tyre compounds throughout the session, Cal Crutchlow in particular appeared to be unhappy with his rear tyre which looked completely shagged at the end of proceedings. The extremely grippy new surface while fast is also creating the possibility of a reduced number of laps in Sunday's race due to the extreme degradation.
Full report and results below:
Tito Rabat has continued his confident form and topped every session thus far at the Australian Moto2 Grand Prix after heading the third and final free practice at the Phillip Island circuit. It was a very tight session where the top sixteen were seperated by an even one second, as riders undertook race simulations. Rabat lead home his Pons Tuenti team mate Pol Espargaro by a tenth of a second while Mika Kallio ended in third place ahead of Speed Up rider Alex DeAngelis and Scott Redding.
Frenchman Johann Zarco posted the sixth fastest time ahead of the Suisse pairing of Dominique Aegerter and Thomas Luthi, while the Aspar Suter duo of Jordi Torres and Nico Terol completed the top ten. Torres recovered from a nasty high side at the exit of the MG corner the Spaniard getting on the gas too aggressively. He was obviously unharmed and continued to show good pace late in proceedings.
Dani Pedrosa has topped MotoGP FP3 at Phillip Island and shown fantastic pace while running on both the soft and hard option Bridgestone tyres. He finished ahead of his team mate Marc Marquez by four hundredths of a second, the championship leader suffered his second crash of the weekend early in the session, losing the front under hard braking at the MG hairpin, he was unhurt and typically unfazed. Valentino Rossi also looked very quick on the hard option tyre that is likely to be used during the race on Sunday, he finished in third place a tenth behind Pedrosa.
Alvaro Bautista showed continued strong form to set an almost identical lap time to Rossi and finish in fourth ahead of his countryman Jorge Lorenzo. After setting the pace comfortably on Friday, Lorenzo looked to be focusing on consistency rather than outright pace and had to settle for the fifth fastest time. Bradley Smith did excellently to finish sixth ahead of Nicky Hayden and his Tech 3 team mate Cal Crutchlow. Colin Edwards and Randy DePuniet did the CRT class proud and achieved superb results of ninth and tenth respectively, both riders earning an automatic starting spot in Q2 later this afternoon.
2013 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday Round Up: Lorenzo's Determination, The Luck Of The Hondas, And Tire Trouble On A New Surface
If anyone was in doubt that Jorge Lorenzo was a man on a mission at Phillip Island, his first few laps of the newly resurfaced circuit should have served to remove any doubt. Lorenzo bolted out of pit lane as soon as the lights turned green, and was soon setting a scorching pace. By the time he had finished his first run of laps, he had already broken the existing race lap record, and had got into the 1'29s. He finished the morning creeping up on the 1'28s, before going on to start lapping in the 1'28s and dominate the afternoon session as well.
Lorenzo came to Australia to win, let there be no doubt about that. He knows it is his only chance, and even then, he knows that even that will not be enough, and he will need help from Marc Marquez. 'The objective is to win the race, and if I win, that will delay Marc's chance to take the title, but it will depend on his result,' Lorenzo told the Spanish media. Lorenzo pointed to Marc Marquez' crash in the afternoon practice as his only real hope of recovering a lot of points. 'I don't wish any harm to any rider, but some bad luck would be good,' Lorenzo reflected. 'We could still think about the championship. But if he finishes on the podium, it will be very complicated. Anyway, we are a long way behind in the championship, and Marc can afford to make this kind of mistake.'
Marquez was sanguine about the crash, coming away totally unharmed in what was a very odd looking crash. 'It was my fault,' Marquez admitted. He had opened the throttle a fraction too much, leaning over a fraction more than on previous laps, and had been flipped off the bike, luckily not thrown very high, so landing unhurt. He had been surprised by how aggressively the Honda had responded at that point. It had been a valuable lesson, however: 'now I know I can't accelerate any harder in that corner,' he joked.
Maverick Vinales has continued to make fantastic use of the resurfaced Phillip Island circuit by heading the field in the third Moto3 free practice session by almost half a second. In less blustery but still beautifully sunny conditions, his sensational lap of 1:36.650 was one and a half seconds quicker than his fastest time from yesterday. Jonas Folger headed the time sheets for the first half of proceedings but had to settle for second place.
A surprisingly impressive John McPhee finished up in a fantastic third place ahead of Miguel Oliveira aboard his Mahindra. Championship leader Luis Salom rounded out the top five and would be disappointed to be almost a full second behind the red-hot pace of Vinales. Isaac Vinales ended up in sixth place ahead of local favourite Jack Miller, Alex Marquez, his team mate Alex Rins and FTR Honda rider Alexis Masbou completed the top ten.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
Press releases after the first day of practice for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
Stefan Bradl is to miss the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. The LCR Honda man had arrived in Australia just five days after surgery on his fractured ankle, and had passed medical tests on Thursday which passed him fit to try to ride during the Friday morning session of practice, after which Bradl would have to undergo a second examination. Bradl posted the 20th fastest time during FP1, but was nearly four seconds off the pace and clearly struggling.
The second examination showed that Bradl was struggling with both pain and a lack of movement, and the circuit doctors declared Bradl unfit, ruling him out of any further contention. Bradl conceded that this was the right decision to make, admitting that his condition meant that any further participation would have been dangerous for both himself and the other riders.
Below is the press release from the LCR Honda team:
BRADL TRIED HIS BEST BUT HAS BEEN DECLARED UNFIT