2014 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday Round Up - Special Tires For A Special Circuit, And The Rules For 2016
Phillip Island is a very special race track. That has an upside – it rewards courage and talent, and has provided some spectacular racing – but it is also special in the more pejoratively euphemistic sense of the word. It challenges not just the riders, but motorcycle designers and racing teams as well. Above all, it challenges tire manufacturers: with wildly varying temperatures, strong winds blowing in cool and damp air off the ocean, an abrasive surface, high-speed corners, more left handers than right handers, and the most of the lefts faster than the rights. It can rain, be bitterly cold, be bathed in glorious sunshine, or in sweltering heat. Try building a tire to cope with all that.
After last year's fiasco, both Dunlop and Bridgestone tried to do just that. They came to the track in March to test tires and gather data to build tires for this weekend. The only minor problem is that the test came at the end of Australia's long summer, and temperatures were much more congenial than now, as the country emerges from its Antipodean winter. The tire selections brought by Dunlop and Bridgestone are much better than last year, but they are not quite perfect. At any other track, that wouldn't be a problem. At Phillip Island, even being not quite perfect can land you in trouble.
That tires are an issue was evident from the number of riders who crashed, both in MotoGP and in Moto2. Most crashed in right handers, a lot going down at MG, which would be one of the most difficult corners of the year wherever it was located, but a fair few followed suit at Hayshed, the right hander that follows on from Siberia (the most aptly named corner on the calendar) and precedes Lukey Heights. There were crashes at the Honda hairpin as well, the other right hander, where hard braking is at a premium.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
The Grand Prix Circus has barely had a chance to catch its breath after Motegi before the next round starts in Australia. With a few exceptions, perhaps, a number of teams being forced to either take a much longer route to Australia to avoid the landfall of typhoon Vongfong, or else severely delayed until the worst passed. Still, to call spending even more hours on a plane or at an airport for what is already a very long flight can hardly be regarded as a spot of rest and relaxation.
Still, they have now all gathered at what is almost unanimously regarded as the best racetrack on the planet. Phillip Island is everything a motorsports circuit is suppose to be: fast, flowing, and deeply challenging. There are plenty of spots for a rider to attempt a pass, or try to make up time, but every single one of them requires either exceptional bravery, or the willingness to take a risk. The many brutally fast corners which litter the track separate the men from the boys: Doohan Corner at turn 1, where you arrive at a staggering 340 km/h, turn 3, now dubbed Stoner corner for the way the retired Australian champion would slide both ends through it at over 250 km/h, the approach to Lukey Heights, which drops away to MG, or the final two turns culminating in Swan Corner, speed building throughout before being launched onto the Gardner Straight, and off towards Doohan again. At Phillip Island, there is no place to hide.
After the fiasco of 2013, when both Dunlop and Bridgestone brought tires which would not last the full distance of the race on the resurfaced track. The new surface was two seconds quicker than the old one, putting a lot more heat into the tires than expected. A tire test in March means that the two tire manufacturers now have tires which will last in both Moto2 and MotoGP, meaning that fans can at least be sure of getting their money's worth.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island:
The endless stream of press releases from Honda, Repsol and Dorna on Marc Marquez' 2014 MotoGP title continues. Today, the indefatigable Repsol Media Service issued a press release containing an interview with the newly-crowned champion:
"This title is to thank Honda for letting me bring all my people to the team"
Marc Marquez yesterday won his fourth World Championship ‒just reward for a season that he started brilliantly and in which he clinched the title with three rounds remaining.
Motegi, Japan, was the scene of a fourth World Championship title victory for Marc Marquez yesterday. The Repsol Honda team rider successfully defended his title in the MotoGP at the first available opportunity. Despite mistakes at the last two races, Marquez left his rivals with no chance of catching him and could celebrate in style with races in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia in hand.
Is winning a World Championship more difficult than taking 10 wins in a row?
Marc Marquez had come to Motegi to give Honda the world championship at their home circuit for the first time ever. The Movistar Yamaha team had come to Japan to score a win in front of their home fans, and factory bosses. In the end, the Battle of the Bosses can be declared a draw: Jorge Lorenzo was just about unstoppable on his way to victory, winning in front of Yamaha's top brass. And Marc Marquez nudged his way past Valentino Rossi to take second, finishing ahead of the two men who could prevent him from wrapping up the 2014 MotoGP title. Marquez brought Honda a championship at the circuit they own, in front of the company's CEO, Takanobu Ito. Both Lorenzo and Marquez came to Motegi with a job to do, and they both got the job done.
The win capped a weekend of near perfection at Motegi for Jorge Lorenzo. Qualifying had been the only minor bump on the road to victory, the Movistar Yamaha man forced to start from the second row. He made up for that with raw aggression off the line, sitting Marc Marquez up into the first corner, then picking of the men ahead of him until he sat on the tail of his teammate, Valentino Rossi. Rossi had capitalized on his front row start, leading off the line and into the first corner, shuffling pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso back to second, Lorenzo demoting the Ducati man to third the next corner.
Rossi pushed hard from the off, and Lorenzo was happy to sit quietly on his tail and follow. But once Marc Marquez had gathered his composure again, passed Andrea Iannone, and closed down Andrea Dovizioso, Lorenzo decided he could wait no longer. A hard but clean pass on Rossi at the end of the back straight put Lorenzo in the lead, and though Rossi thought about attacking straight back, he found himself off line and with Dovizioso ready to pounce behind him.
The Repsol Media Service issued the following press release, chronicling Marc Marquez' path to his 2014 MotoGP title:
Marc Marquez proclaimed 2014 MotoGP World Champion
Repsol Honda team rider takes second straight title in the premier class in Japan and, at 21 years of age, adds a fourth world title to his resumé.
Marc Marquez has been crowned King of MotoGP once again. The Repsol Honda rider retained his title at the Japanese Grand Prix, achieving a new milestone. The Spaniard becomes the youngest rider in history to win two consecutive MotoGP World Championships, adding the accolade to his titles in 125cc (2010) and Moto2 (2012).
2014 is going to be hard to forget for Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda team rider began the series in unstoppable fashion, stringing together ten consecutive wins and equalling the record set by Mick Doohan in 1997 –also as a Repsol rider. This season, Marquez has won 11 races and taken 12 podiums and 11 pole positions. The champion has been able to manage his advantage with a maverick style, en route to clinching the title in Japan.
MotoGP series organizer Dorna issued the following press release, celebrating Marc Marquez' successful defense of his MotoGP title:
How magnificent Marquez successfully defended the MotoGP™ title in 2014
Repsol Honda’s brilliant young MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez retained the premier class title in style this year – and this is the story of how he did so, sending the hashtag #MM93WorldChamp trending worldwide.
Last year Marquez became the youngest ever winner of the premier class World Championship, securing the crown by four points and winning it at the last race of the season in Valencia. This year a brilliant start to his title defence saw him notch up ten consecutive race wins in the opening ten races, leaving his rivals chasing his shadows.
A pre-season leg break which the rider, from Cervera, Spain, sustained whilst dirt track training close to his hometown, meant he missed the last tests before the new season commenced, but he showed no signs of weakness once the real action got underway in Qatar. Just weeks after his training accident Marquez showed he would be tough to beat this year as he won from pole at the Losail International Circuit following a great battle in the desert with Valentino Rossi.
The Repsol Media Service put together the following video and press release celebrating Marc Marquez wrapping up his fourth world championship, and second title in MotoGP:
The career of a four-time World Champion
A look back, with pictures and audio, at Marc Marquez’ evolution in the World Championship, from his debut in 2008 to the 2014 season.
It has been 7 seasons since a very young Marc Marquez, aged just 15, took his first steps in the World Championship in 2008 with the backing of Repsol. It has been enough time for the Repsol Honda rider to amaze with numerous milestones, accumulating 4 World Championships ‒1 in 125cc (2010), 1 in Moto2 (2012) and 2 in MotoGP (2013 and 2014)‒ in the last 5 years and achieving unprecedented accolades for someone so young.
The Repsol Honda team issued the following press release containing all of Marc Marquez' records secured in 2014, plus a biograph of the 2014 world champion:
2014 World Champion – Marc Marquez
It’s been another record breaking season for Repsol Honda sensation, Marc Marquez. The young Spaniard has now won his first two MotoGP campaigns with back-to-back Championships and is rewriting the history books on his way.
Already having broken many milestones in his maiden year in 2013, this season has been no different. Here’s a look back at the records he’s accomplished this season to date.
2014 Highlights so far:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the Sunday's Japanese round at Motegi:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Motegi:
Ever since he left Ducati at the end of 2010, Casey Stoner has cast a long shadow over the Italian factory. He was the ever-present specter, sitting like Banquo's ghost astride the Desmosedici that any other rider dared swing a leg over. There was a contingent of fans and journalists who, after every poor result by the riders who succeeded Stoner, would point to the Australian's results and say "but Casey won on the Ducati."
What impressed me most about Valentino Rossi's time at Ducati was the calmness and dignity with which he responded to the same question being asked of him, week in, week out. "Valentino," yet another journalist would ask each race, "Casey Stoner won on this bike. Why can't you?" Not once did he lose his temper, ignore the question, or blank the person who asked it. Every week, he would give the same reply: "Casey rode the Ducati in a very special way. I can't ride that way." More than anything, the dignity with which he answered every week were a sign of his humanity, and an exceptional human being. If it takes guts to attempt the switch, it takes even greater courage for someone repeatedly tagged as the greatest of all time to admit failure.
None were immune. Stoner's former teammate Nicky Hayden would be asked why he could not match the pace of the Australian. Andrea Dovizioso had the fortune to come after Rossi, but even he was subjected to comparison with Stoner. Cal Crutchlow was the same, a situation made worse by the fact that he said before he arrived at Ducati that he believed he would be able to ride the Ducati like Stoner. Since arriving at Ducati, he has admitted that he could not.
On Saturday, Andrea Dovizioso may have taken the first step on the path to expelling Stoner's specter from the Ducati garage. The Italian became the first rider to take pole on the Desmosedici since Casey Stoner did so at Valencia in 2010. In fact, he became the first rider other than Casey Stoner to secure pole position on a Ducati since Loris Capirossi in 2006. For Ducati, having Andrea Dovizioso on pole is a very, very big deal. Perhaps even bigger than the factory themselves realize.