Silverstone, Great Britain
The tire problems experienced by Valentino Rossi and Ben Spies at Assen, where great chunks of rubber came off the right side of the rear of the tire, slowing Spies up severely and affecting Rossi so badly he was forced to pit for a new tire, have been the subject of much speculation and discussion since the event. Spies was particularly shaken after the race, the tire problems bringing back bad memories of the 300 km/h tire failure and monster crash he had at Daytona back in 2003, which he still has the scars to show from.
Nearly a week on, and after examination by Bridgestone technicians back at the factory in Japan, we can start to draw a few preliminary conclusions as to the cause of the problems. Bridgestone have issued a press release and briefed the press directly, and riders have weighed in with their thoughts and impressions of what happened. Before pointing fingers and apportioning blame, let us first walk through what we know of what actually happened.
Cal Crutchlow's offer of a factory ride at Ducati moved from conjecture to established fact at Assen, Crutchlow tacitly acknowledging that the factory which had offered him a contract was indeed Ducati. Though Crutchlow is waiting on an offer from the factory Yamaha team before giving Ducati an answer - Crutchlow is directly behind Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa in the Silly Season pecking order - he is believed to be very keen to take the ride, regarding a factory ride as the only chance he has of having a shot at being World Champion.
At Barcelona, when asked by MotoMatters.com whether the plight of the many top riders that have struggled on the Ducati worried him, Crutchlow told reporters it did not, saying that the similarities between his own riding style and Casey Stoner's made him optimistic he could learn to ride the GP13. "If I looked at my riding style and Casey's riding style, how we open the gas, how we brake, stuff like that, obviously he's a second a lap faster most of the time, but it's similar," Crutchlow said. "And as he's the only one who's been able to ride the Ducati, then I'm not scared to maybe take a chance and go there, no."
Pol Espargaró came back from darkness into the winner’s spotlight in a matter of days, thanks to his lonely and extraordinary Moto2 win at Silverstone. «Smart» Pol –do not confuse with Ducati rider Paul Smart- left Barcelona injured, with no points and witnessing how arch rival Marc Márquez was leaving with the same 16 points that Pol was fighting for when he crashed at Montmeló.
Espargaro may not be the most technical rider on the grid, neither does he speak the best English. However, you can be sure he has the strongest spirit among riders in the intermediate class. It would have been natural to be furious after being taken out by Marquez in Barcelona. But Espargaró was very well advised by HP Tuenti team Boss Sito Pons and chose the opposite and toughest way of overcoming his setback. Just dedicating a few nice words to his Catalunya Caixa rival and then focusing on proving at Silverstone he is as quick as the fastest rider on the track. Watching Espargaró in the last few seasons brings to my mind that old racing cliché: You can't teach a slow rider to produce a talent he does not have, but fortunately you can teach a skilled rider to be smarter or avoid mistakes. That’s what Espargaró and the HP Tuenti team have achieved this season.
Bridgestone issued its usual press release on Wednesday after the British Grand Prix, discussing the performance of their tires during the MotoGP weekend at Silverstone. No mention was made of the tire problems which beset Ben Spies and Casey Stoner, however:
British MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Silverstone, Wednesday 20 June 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Medium-soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Last weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone was a thrilling encounter where Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo claimed his third MotoGP™ win in a row ahead of the Repsol Honda duo of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa who placed second and third respectively.
After a cold and blustery start to the race weekend, weather conditions for Sunday’s race were more favourable with track temps in the mid 20°C mark, though some light drizzle as the riders lined up on the grid meant tyre choices for the race weren’t confirmed until moments before the action got underway.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
For the past few years, attending a MotoGP round has been a disheartening experience for most British fans. After sitting in traffic for several hours, they then faced a day getting soaked to the skin while watching their local heroes - if any were actually on the grid - circulating around at the rear of the pack. At the end of the day, they faced yet more hours sitting in a traffic chaos in a downpour to get home again. They loved it, of course, but it tested their courage.
2012 would be different. The miserable weather magically disappeared for race day - it was far from perfect, but it remained largely dry - Scott Redding got on the podium in Moto2, and Cal Crutchlow put on a heroic and brilliant performance in MotoGP. It might be fair to question the wisdom of Crutchlow's decision to lie about his foot not being broken and race anyway, but there is no question about his bravery or pain threshold, nor, after starting at the back of the grid and slicing through the field to finish 6th, matching the pace of race winner Jorge Lorenzo, about his ability. The British fans have a hero again. More than one, in fact.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the race on Sunday at Silverstone:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Silverstone:
The rookie rule is to be dropped for the 2013 season. The Spanish daily El Pais is reporting that Dorna and IRTA had decided that the rule preventing MotoGP rookies from being signed to a factory team had to be scrapped due to the difficulties presented by the limited number of bikes available to ride. As a consequence, it was felt it was better to drop the rookie rule altogether, rather than create more problems for existing satellite teams by maintaining it.
The rule had outlived its usefulness, IRTA secretary Mike Trimby told MotoMatters.com. "The situation has changed," Trimby said. "There are far fewer opportunities for rookies now than there were when the Rookie Rule was introduced." In 2010, the first year of its introduction, there were three satellite Ducati seats, two satellite Yamaha seats and four satellite Honda seats available. In 2013, there will be just two satellite Yamahas and two satellite Hondas, with perhaps just a single satellite Ducati available, though Ducati team boss Alessandro Cicognani said that it was Ducati's intention to keep two satellite Ducatis if possible, and the factory was willing to look at pricing to help achieve that goal.
Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Silverstone: