2012 Misano MotoGP Friday Round Up: The Weather Takes Center Stage

The main protagonist in Friday's action was the weather. Like a hormonal teenage girl, the rain simply could not make up its mind whether it was going to fall properly or not, light drizzle blowing in for ten minutes before blowing out again five minutes later. (Hormonal teenage boys, it should be noted, know exactly what they want, and apart from the obvious, what they want is the opposite of whatever they have just been told). The weather left the track in that awful half-and-half condition, too cold and damp for slicks, too dry for wets, and the track conditions left the MotoGP men mostly sitting in the pits.

Dani Pedrosa explained it best. "Too wet, so you cannot push, so the tire cools down immediately after you go out, and in or two laps you have to stop, because there is no temperature in the tire. And with the wets, it's completely the opposite, the tire is immediately out of the working range, and one or two laps and it is gone." Even in the short period you could go out, there was nothing to be learned, Pedrosa said. "If the tire has too much temperature or too little temperature, the bike feels completely different. There's no meaning in going out."

Johnny Rea, however, put it most succinctly. "It was a pointless exercise really." Despite that, Rea went out to try to learn more about the MotoGP bike, and the MotoGP Bridgestones, but the conditions made it impossible. Was there anything at all he had learned today? Rea was asked. "Yes, lunch is pretty good!" The Ulsterman quipped. Swapping between a MotoGP bike and a World Superbike machine had been tough, though it had made his WSBK Honda CBR1000RR feel much better. "Mentally, it's much harder to go from SBK to GP," Rea said. "When I came back from Aragon to the Nurburgring I had such a good feeling straight away, because the bike was moving, and a lot of feedback from the tires, the chassis, so immediately you understand the limit. But when I went from Russia to Brno, you have to get to a certain level and that feels like the limit, but the limit is one second beyond that. So that's what's tough."

Rea was one of the few factory riders to go out and put a few laps in, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi all having spent their day sitting in the pits. That had disrupted their rhythm, Pedrosa explained. Instead of spending an hour or so after each session talking to their crews about how the bike felt and discussing the plans and options for the next practice session, they were done in about thirty seconds. Pedrosa was a little more loquacious than normal, happier to answer questions, but that may have been because the questions he was being asked were a little different than normal, the usual grind of "so how did it go" being meaningless.

Nicky Hayden also spent time out on the track, to try to evaluate the state of his hand, but it was hard to tell just how it will hold up over race distance after just a handful of laps. The weather had ruined his plans, however. The original plan was for Hayden to spend Friday getting back up to speed on the current Ducati Desmosedici, before testing the current bike and the modified frame and swingarm back to back on Saturday, evaluating which of them he would race on Sunday. But with Friday a wash, that plan fell through, forcing Hayden to stay with the bike they know, rather than switching to the new machine.

Ducati generated a lot of discussion on Friday, with Karel Abraham's Cardion AB team officially announcing they would be passing on the option to run a satellite bike for 2013 and switching to an Aprilia CRT machine. The move had been long expected - mooted prior to Silverstone, but not cemented until Misano - especially once Ducati announced the signing of Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone for their junior team, leaving Cardion de facto without a bike. But the relationship had gone sour a long time ago.

The press release in English was clear enough, citing a bike that was difficult to set up and an engine that was severely lacking in development. The press release in Czech went into even more detail: before Brno, the team was given a new engine, but it did not fit into the original frame they had been given. They had to modify the frame to make it fit, and even then, this destroyed the weight distribution, forcing Karel Abraham to carry three more kilos to rectify the situation. The bike could not be set up to suit the rider, the rider had to adapt to the bike. A point made today also by Nicky Hayden, when asked for advice for the riders joining Ducati for next year. Forget about trying to adapt the bike to suit you, Hayden said, you have to learn to adapt your style to the bike.

Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi, meanwhile, had an opportunity to defend himself against some of the charges which have been laid at his door recently. In an interview with GPOne.com, Preziosi spoke of the recent complaints of a lack of development from Valentino Rossi's crew chief Jeremy Burgess, of the visit by former Yamaha engineer Masao Furusawa to Preziosi, and of the lessons learned from Rossi's period at the factory. Ducati were continuously developing the bike, Preziosi said, though perhaps Burgess had not realized that this was the case. New swingarms had been supplied and tested, but rejected after not giving any improvement, and chassis updates were slowed due to the need to modify engine cases to fit a new frame, a recurrent problem with the engine allocation rules. Preziosi had much more to say, all of which is available (in both English and Italian) over on GPOne.com.

While the lack of on-track action left a hiatus which was filled with gossip and speculation, what everyone in the paddock really wants is weather consistent enough to put some laps on the bike. Saturday morning is looking as tricky as ever, but the afternoon should see the change we have been waiting for, with a spell of dry and sunny weather moving in for the rest of the week. Race day, at least, should be dry. Hopefully, that will be the case for qualifying as well. Or we could have very little to write about on Saturday too...

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Yet again tyres dominate and control what is happening. When will they finally decide that going faster with a product is no good if you cannot go at all when conditions are mixed or cool?
I just do not see what this is doing for the fans, tyre Co.'s, the promoters, the riders, or the teams.
IMO tyres that cannot race in real weather should be banned. And if that includes the whole 'stiff sidewall' BS product, then so be it.
This is just crazy. If any series gets to the point that racing cannot happen due to unexceptional weather, due either to too much power or not enough grip/control then something drastic needs to be done.
Carmelo should pop along to Pirelli with a van and some Euros.
BS should refund the fans tickets for time lost due to their inability to produce a tyre (and refund Carmelo).

You do realize that
1) this isnt a bridgestone / control tire problem. This is a fundamental aspect of racing at ALL LEVELS. Club racers deal with the mixed conditions issue as well and thats a very open market on tires with slicks, rains, DOTs, and actual street tires.
2) you are suggesting Dorna go get Pirellis, who have cancelled and cut short multple WSBK races this season because the rain / intermediate tires couldnt handle the on track conditions....

in a perfect world every race weekend would be sunny and 75 degrees with a soft steady breeze and we could see these guys pushing the bikes to the absolute limit.
but this world is far from perfect...
and right now we're talking about practice.... If they cancelled the race (something WSBK and pirelli have done) then i can see being upset about your expenditure. But were talking about practice....

>>this isnt a bridgestone / control tire problem. This is a fundamental
>>aspect of racing at ALL LEVELS.

That's incorrect. It is only a fundamental aspect of the spec tire rule that GP has implimented.

>>Club racers deal with the mixed conditions issue as well and thats a
>>very open market on tires with slicks, rains, DOTs, and actual street tires.

Yes, and club racers can mix and match DOT and slick, they can use intermediates, or they can hand cut slicks. All well establilshed techniques to adapt to weather conditions and all prohibited by current GP rules. Since BS is not being paid a lot they don't want to go through the expense of making intermediates for the few times they are needed. And since nobody can have a tire 'advantage', even if that advantage is just finding an old tire tech that knows how to use a siping tool, its hands off the slicks.

As a result the show, that thing we hear CE is always so concerned about improving, suffers with all of the front runners sitting out an ENTIRE DAY of practice sessions.


I guess I'm feeling a bit 'hormonal' this morning, but before I decide to go back to bed, how can he think saying these things helps his position?
It seems that the undercurrent here (fully understandable in these times) is that Ducati couldn't or wouldn't afford the development. Given the Phillip Morris connection does this mean that Mr.P blames them for not stumping up enough cash to make the dream team work?
As for the 'I just did what Rossi asked' comment that strikes of real desperation. As an engineer, why did he design a bike in the first place that was effectively/practically unadjustable in these days of mass-centralisation (it's not exactly a new concept) and load transfer? (this, I understand, is the man who came up with the brilliantly simple carbon chassis concept - a key point being, it seems, 'Oh - we cannot adjust the engine etc position'....'Never mind, any decent rider can work around that.' and 'Ducati engines have always pointed in that direction, so it must be good, we just need to move that funny round thing up front').
I'm already beginning to think that Audi do not understand what is needed - this is under their watch now and if they plan a 'winter of the long knives' then they could at least tell him to stay in the design studio until then.
I'm sure a few books will be written on this saga, so Preziosi should start his over the winter, earn a crust, and leave the designing of those red machines to someone with less concern about PR and more about performance.

I watch the racing and engage with this site because I enjoy it. For me its fun. But it's a serious sport.
We don't get to see the contracts but as a prototype series I would expect BS to be providing the best technology and it should enable a race to take place in any situation where the track is suitable for racing.
You are right though - it's not a perfect world.
My comment on the Pirellis and the van was light-hearted, but I sure do feel that the situation was a fiasco for a top-level sport, where everybody pays top-dollar for the privilege, and the show should go on.
In club racing the riders would stick some cut slicks or inters, or road tyres on and get out - because that's what they came to do, and it's about beating the guy in front , not the lap record.
If that weather was on race day what would happen - more riders going out because 'they have to' without a suitable tyre? The BS approach to tyre design and supply seems to me to have caused more rider injuries and smashed-up bikes than in any other series, and that's not why I watch.
Just because this was 'only practice' should not be the issue at this level.
Sponsors, and their hospitality guests, (and David Emmett) may have been diverted by having more than usual access to riders and personnel with nothing better to do, but that isn't why they sponsor the teams - it's for racing and the TV etc coverage that gives them.
Also, for many fans the practice days are some of the best - easier travel/parking ,more access, those balls-out laps, affordable if you cannot stump up for a race day ticket. The guys in hospitality are the lucky ones - its very likely a 'freebie' apart from getting there. For the guy who just loves the bikes and scrapes the money together, no-show is an expensive day sat on some grass.
But hey, that's racing.