2014 Phillip Island Sunday Round Up: Why The MotoGP Race Was Not A Tire Fiasco, And Rossi Reaps Rewards

Once again, a MotoGP race at Phillip Island is decided by tires. The tires Bridgestone brought to the Australian circuit were not up to the task, with riders crashing out all throughout the race. The front tires Bridgestone brought to the track were unable to cope with the conditions. The result was determined by tires, not by talent.

That, at least, is the narrative being heard around the internet after the bizarre yet fascinating MotoGP race at Phillip Island. It is an attractive narrative – a nice, simple explanation for what happened in Australia – but it is fundamentally flawed. The tire situation was complicated, certainly. Jorge Lorenzo's front tire showed very severe degradation, more than would normally be explained by the expected wear. Several riders crashed out on the asymmetric front tire Bridgestone brought. But to lay the blame entirely on Bridgestone is quite wrong.

The problems at Phillip Island are inherent to the track, and were exacerbated by changes made to suit European TV schedules. Phillip Island, like Assen, is a track which places peculiar demands on tires. It features a lot of very fast left-hand corners, with only a few right handers, two of which are the slowest corners on the track. It is located next to the Bass Strait, a freezing stretch of water connected to the globe-spanning Southern Ocean, which means the weather is highly changeable. Temperatures dropped during the race by as much as 9°C, probably a result of Dorna insisting on running the race at 4pm local time (the late afternoon) to hit a 7am TV slot in their main markets of Spain and Italy. That time will draw a bigger audience than the 5am slot a 2pm race start would fill. But to locals, racing at 4pm at this time of the year is madness.

Building a tire to cope with the demands of the Phillip Island circuit is nigh on impossible. The tire needs to cope with some of the biggest loads generated all season due to very high speed corners on a high grip surface. It needs to be hard enough for the fast lefts, yet soft enough to cope with the well-spaced slow right handers. And it has to have a massive temperature operating range. Both air and track temperatures can vary massively, from just a few degrees above freezing to bordering on the tropical.

If you want to know just how hard it is to build tires to handle the Phillip Island circuit, just go back and watch any of the recent World Superbike rounds there. The World Supersport race has been shortened in length almost every year for the past few seasons, and serious tire problems have afflicted both the World Superbike and World Supersport races. If you think Bridgestone did a bad job at Phillip Island, you should see what Pirelli did in WSBK. Fortunately for the Italian tire manufacturer, however, World Superbikes only attracts a fraction of the audience which MotoGP does, especially at that time in the morning. It also helps that Pirelli ruthlessly enforces the penalty clause in its contract which allows them to issue hefty fines to any rider complaining about the tires, effectively gagging them. Bridgestone has a similar clause in their contract, yet they have never invoked it, nor fined a rider for complaining, despite having good cause on a number of occasions.

That does not exonerate Bridgestone completely. The tires they brought to the track were capable of handling the expected conditions, but it was much colder than when they tested here in March. The extra soft tire worked for some bikes, but the asymmetric tire was just a fraction too hard for the conditions, especially on the right side, and especially when the track temperatures started to drop. As for Jorge Lorenzo's front tire, the left side of which was completely destroyed by the end of the race, Lorenzo was quick to blame a defective tire, while Bridgestone pointed to bike set up as the culprit. "As always," Lorenzo commented laconically during the press conference, before pointing to the example of Valentino Rossi at Austin, where he suffered a similar problem. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, with Lorenzo's set up and the hard battle he had with Valentino Rossi stressing the tire, but surely not enough for him to lose over two seconds a lap in the final eight laps.

The impression that tires dominated the race was created by the fact that all of the tire-related crashes happened at the front, or close to it. Marc Marquez was the first to go down, crashing on lap 18 while leading the race. Pol Espargaro followed, crashing out from fourth with three laps to go. And Cal Crutchlow was the final victim, folding the front at the Honda hairpin on the very last lap, crashing out of an outstanding second place. Six other riders didn't make it to the finish line, but none of those were tire-related, Dani Pedrosa and Aleix Espargaro being taken out by boneheaded moves by Andrea Iannone and Stefan Bradl respectively, Broc Parkes retiring through injury, and Karel Abraham crashing all on his own.

All the talk of tires distracts from the achievement of Valentino Rossi. At the age of 35, in his 250th start in the premier class, Rossi brought home his second win of the season. He celebrated it like it was his first win, and in a way it was. Winning at 'one of the greatest circuits of the year', and nine years after his last win here made it very special, Rossi said. Knowing that he was competitive with Jorge Lorenzo, and not far off Marc Marquez made it even better. Rossi is back on form, and now has a slightly firmer hold on second place in the championship.

How did Rossi's win come about? You would not have put money on the Italian winning after the opening laps of the race. Marc Marquez got a great start for a change, only ceding the lead to Jorge Lorenzo off the line, with Bradley Smith moving up to second as they entered the first corner. From there, Marquez showed his genius, riding round the outside of Smith on the way into the Southern Loop, then using the fact he was pushed wide to cut inside of Lorenzo on the exit and take the lead. From that point on, Marquez was chasing history, pushing hard to take a twelfth win of the season, and to match Mick Doohan's record. His target was within reach when he went down, crashing out of the lead.

How did the crash happen? Temperatures had been dropping rapidly, and tires were cooling. Marquez had backed off a fraction, feeling that the tires were starting to cool. That turned out to be a mistake, as when he braked for the MG hairpin, the front simply washed out under him, leaving him with no chance.

Though much of the blame must go on the drop in ambient temperature, perhaps the cause can be attributed to the construction of the asymmetric front tire. The tire has two sections, a large part on the left-hand side and center consisting of harder rubber (which Bridgestone designates as soft), and the right-hand side made of the extra-soft rubber used on the symmetric extra soft tire. The extra-soft rubber was well off center, riders only getting on to it once they reached a lean angle of 30°.

While the left-hand side was getting up to temperature just fine, the center of the tire was cooling off as temperatures dropped and it went unused. Under the hard braking for MG, the cold rubber in the center of the tire simply let go, and Marquez fell. Both Cal Crutchlow and Pol Espargaro crashed in the same way, though they went down at Turn 4, the Honda hairpin. The issue, if there was one, is that the Hondas and Ducatis simply couldn't make the extra soft tire last. "With the Honda, the 31 [extra soft] was destroyed after ten laps," Marquez explained afterwards. The asymmetric 35 worked fine, until it got too cold.

The choice of using harder rubber of the center of the tire was a deliberate one by Bridgestone, and one which offered the braking stability which previous attempts at building asymmetric front tires had lacked. The theory behind the construction appears solid, but practice is a little more thorny, as ever. For a first outing, the tire did reasonably well – three of the riders who used the asymmetric tire crashed, but three more finished without problems. But there is room for improvement, and something for Bridgestone to work on next year, in their final season of MotoGP.

With Marquez out of the running, victory would be fought out between the two Yamahas. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo fought a fierce battle, swapping places multiple times while fighting for second. Marquez' crash coincided with the moment that Jorge Lorenzo's front tire started to deteriorate badly, the Spaniard losing the tow of his Movistar Yamaha teammate. Rossi pushed on, controlling the race as Cal Crutchlow inched closer. When he crossed the line, the joy with which he celebrated the win proved just how much fighting spirit there is left in the old man. He looked as pumped as the 19-year-old Jack Miller had earlier, when he had won the Moto3 race in front of his home crowd. That hunger is what drives Rossi to keep working, improving, trying to win, and why he keeps succeeding in his goals.

Rossi's win at Phillip Island was his first in nine years, which was reason enough. It also gave him six wins at the circuit, bringing him level with Casey Stoner. Was that an extra reason for joy, to equal the record of his bitterest rival? Perhaps. But Rossi is unlikely to admit to it.

Cal Crutchlow came tantalizingly close to his second podium of the season, before crashing at the Honda Hairpin, where so many crashes have happened over the weekend. It is a notorious spot, with Andrea Dovizioso describing it as 'like riding in the wet'. Like Marquez, Crutchlow was using the asymmetric tire, which just let go without warning. He had slowed up a little in the last few laps, though he knew he had to keep pushing to try to keep heat in the tire. The temperature drop was what did for him, however, the front folding before he even got the tire over onto the softer rubber.

It was a bitter pill to swallow. 'Devastated,' is how he described it afterwards. His team had worked so hard to get him where he was, he had worked so hard on his approach and riding style. To make it through to second was even more of an achievement, given that Andrea Iannone had nearly sideswiped him going into the first corner, dropping him well down the grid. Most impressive of all, perhaps, was the way he cut a swathe through the field to get to the front of the race, despite being knocked back by Iannone. Crutchlow looked nothing like the rider he was earlier in the season, when he was tentativeness personified. If you watched the race in black & white (yes, young folk, we once used to watch racing without color) you would have thought he was already riding a Honda. Crutchlow was assertive, forceful, fast. This, as I wrote yesterday, is how you ride a Ducati: don't bother trying to set it up, finding the bike's sweet spot is like looking for a needle in a haystack. You ride it like you stole it. Crutchlow was riding as if the fuzz were hot on his heels.

Crutchlow's crash both saved Lorenzo's hopes of taking second in the championship, and elevated Bradley Smith to his first podium in MotoGP. The Englishman could not believe it: he could see Lorenzo up ahead of him, and Rossi off in the distance, but he had no idea that Crutchlow had crashed out. He looked up at the big screens around the circuit, and thought they must be wrong. It took a moment to sink in, but when it did, it hit him like a freight train. Smith was ecstatic in Parc Ferme, almost as pleased as Rossi. He was close to tears in TV interviews, the weight of two long, hard seasons sliding off his shoulders. In the press conference, he thanked the Tech 3 team for their patience, and keeping faith in him, and giving him another chance next year.

Smith has been close to a good result all year, all he needed was for everything to come together. That finally happened at Phillip Island. Maybe Smith got a little lucky with the crashers ahead of him, but that does not detract from him deserving this, his 24th Grand Prix podium in all classes. He kept his head where others fell, and more importantly, he had to dispense with the large group that spent most of the race battling over fifth spot. He was smart enough to see Bradl coming in hot and heavy, and make sure he was out of the way of the impending disaster. He was chasing Pol Espargaro when his Tech 3 teammate went down in front of him. He shook off the chasing Andrea Dovizioso, eventually putting 2 seconds between himself and the Ducati. Smith needed to catch a break, and he finally did.

Positively dejected after the race was Jorge Lorenzo. The second Movistar Yamaha rider was distraught at the state of his front tire, the left side of which was utterly destroyed. There was no doubt in Lorenzo's mind that the tire was defective, despite the denials of Bridgestone. The tire lasted until the last third of the race, when it suddenly dropped off completely. Whether this was a combination of set up and riding style or just a production problem is hard to say. Lorenzo had spent time in practice trying out the asymmetric front, where Rossi had stuck with the extra soft front. Did less time on the tire mean Lorenzo's set up wasn't as good as Rossi's? Maybe. But maybe the tire really did have a problem. No doubt we will find out at Sepang, once Bridgestone have taken the tire away and examined it.

The attrition in midfield – coming more from poor riding than from tire troubles – made for an interesting final result. Andrea Dovizioso finished fourth, the best result for a Ducati at Phillip Island since Casey Stoner left the factory. Despite the result, Dovizioso had been anonymous all weekend, muddling along in mid pack, comprehensively outclassed by his teammate for the first time this season. The removal of Aleix Espargaro left Hector Barbera as the first Open class rider, and his best result in MotoGP. Barbera just crept ahead of Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding, the trio separated by just a few hundredths. Scott Redding said it was the first race of the season he had enjoyed, taking the fight to his teammate on the superior RC213V. Two more races, and Redding will have one of his own.

In the end, the MotoGP race produced real entertainment. Was it a fiasco for Bridgestone and Dorna, ruined by faulty tires? For proof that it wasn't, you need only look back to 2013, when the race had to be shorted and mandatory pit stops added. When Bridgestone came to a resurfaced Phillip Island without having done any testing, and found their tires being destroyed, that was a fiasco. This year, the rear tires held up perfectly, though they were not offering the same grip as last year. The front tires worked well, but Bridgestone didn't quite get it right. Conditions were very different when they tested in March, the Japanese tire manufacturer building a tire that would have been perfect if it had been 5°C warmer. There is much for the riders to be unhappy about. But this was no 2013.

Of course, MotoGP wasn't the only race that happened at the Island. The support races had their fair share of excitement as well. Moto2 produced a good race again, the class finally getting into the swing of things as the season winds down. A group of five contested the win for much of the race, until Maverick Viñales once again pulled away at the front. It is his second win in three races, and his third of the year. Viñales is proving to be the exceptional rider that many believed he was, and if he wasn't moving up to MotoGP next year, would be a hot favorite for the Moto2 title.

As it is, that didn't get settled at Phillip Island after all. Tito Rabat may have dominated practice and qualifying, but they don't hand out points for that. In the race, Rabat got caught up in the slugfest for the lead, once again crossing the line to take a podium, behind Viñales and another excellent performance from Tom Luthi. It wasn't enough for the title, but he did extend his lead over his teammate Mika Kallio once again. A Marc VDS Racing rider is now certain to win the Moto2 title. But now 41 points behind Rabat, Kallio needs a miracle in the next two races.

Jack Miller didn't need a miracle at his home race to take his first victory since the Sachsenring in July. The Moto3 class delivered the kind of race we have come to expect of it: a big group of riders going at it hammer and tongs all race long. Attrition, mistakes, and some rough passes whittled the group down to six in the last couple of laps, with title candidates Miller, Alex Marquez and Alex Rins all at the forefront.

It looked liked the rider to lead out of the last corner would be the one to lose out. Anyone who did lead out of Swann Corner would immediately find themselves swamped by the rest in the Moto3 slipstreaming battle. So when Jack Miller took the lead on the final lap, many feared the worst. But Miller had a plan for the last lap, leading into the last corner with just a tiny gap to second. As they pulled onto the straight, he jinked left, breaking the tow of the two Estrella Galicia bikes which followed. It was enough to buy him a meter at the line, and give him victory over the two Alexes.

Less fortunate was the fact that it was Marquez who finished second, Miller only getting back five of the points he trails the Spaniard by in the championship. But it was an important moral victory, and a chance to swing the tide back in his favor. With two races left in the championship, Marquez has a 20 point lead over Miller, while Rins is 41 points behind. Both Miller and Rins will need help to wrest the title from Marquez' control, but it is far from settled. If Alex Marquez wins at Sepang, however, the Moto3 title will be done.

Total votes: 137
Total votes: 72

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Comments

I'd love to see a pic.

Total votes: 112

There is no tire fiasco. Riders finished on the same tires others are moaning about as David pointed out.

When Valentino wins, it seems, the asterisk-atis are gathering their pitch forks. We had another race recently where the illustrious Factory HRC riders didn't finish the race and Jorge Lorenzo, and his team all worked in unison to get a W. MotoGp wins come from the team and rider working in unison to make the right choice in tires and setup. Then the rider executing on the package to the maximum, constantly analyzing conditions, managing tires, and picking other riders off. On any given MotoGP Sunday some choose right and some choose wrong.

Marquez has chosen wrong or made bad decisions 3 out of the last 4 races, with his teammate making a similar mistake recently. Jorge brought his bike home to 2nd after making the wrong tire choice for his riding style, but he finished the race, and on the podium. He managed the wrong choice correctly. A rider, no matter how great, is at times going to have to slow it down and bring it home rather than toss it in the litter.

Valentino Rossi and his team made the best choices today. They all knew how hard PI is on tires before they even arrived at the circuit.

Total votes: 180

Everyone keeps saying how Lorenzo spends more time on the tyre edge, and generates more corner-speed than anyone else.

Could this account for the difference in wear-rates between him and Rossi?

Total votes: 139

Lorenzo brakes early and carries very high corner speed. This puts immense wear on the tire edge, particularly at Phillip island.

Rossi on the other hand, brakes very late and carries less corner speed (similar to marquez), and as such, saves the tire edge. Braking uses the center of the tire, whereas cornering uses the edge. At Phillip Island, the edge must be conserved due to the extreme wear they undergo as a result of the long left handers.

Rossi's style suited the conditions and tires, Lorenzo's didn't. End of story.

Total votes: 107

I feel bad for Pedrosa and Espargaro, suffering from the crashes of others, but I almost feel worse for Cal Crutchlow, coming so close and falling as temperatures dropped near the end of the race. What an improvement he's made on the Ducati! The thought of him on a Honda next year must have got the attention of the other riders...

I think it no coincidence at all that the winner in these subtly treacherous conditions was the most experienced rider on the grid.

Total votes: 141

I mean what are the odds of getting hit in the rear twice in one weekend. No one deserves that bad of luck. He not only lost any chance in this race but he pretty much lost any chance of getting 2nd or 3rd in the championship.

Espargaro, on the other hand, knocked Hernandez out of the race last weekend so perhaps he needs to be a bit more forgiving.

Let's hope for no more racing incidents or rather lack of rider control in Malaysia.

Total votes: 118

I often think Pedrosa is too cautious, not pushing if everything isn't perfect and certainly not until he absolutely has to. It means he has very few crashes, which is understandable given his previous injuries, but it also means he isn't exploring the limits like his history-making teammate.

My point is that Pedrosa had the ability to ride that bike to a 2nd row position when he absolutely had to. But for the first three practices, he wouldn't push hard enough deliver a top 10 time. And while his teammate made some unbelievable moves at the start to take the lead, Pedrosa dropped back into the scrum, perhaps due to his full tank problems described before. Once you are back in the scrum, anything can happen, and it did.

Pedrosa needs to up his game across the board IMO, and what he did in 2H2012 to me demonstrated that he can do it if he lets it all hang out. His bike has won 12 races this year....

Total votes: 136

Brought about by an injured Stoner and a points counting Lorenzo. Pedrosa has been a Honda factory GP rider for 9 years now! He averages less than 3 wins a season in that time, with some bad luck but also years where he could have won if he were capable. For comparison he still trails Stoner by 13 wins in the top class despite having 50% more years on factory bikes. Marquez is obviously obliterating him, Lorenzo is way better and Rossi is showing he's still better at 35. I completely understand why HRC are happy to have Dani as one of their riders, he's the best of the rest after you remove # 1, 99 and 46, but he's not consistent enough to beat the top guys. He's great at some tracks but poor at others, Phillip Island a glaring example.

Total votes: 134

He's the best of rest? Really? I thought prior to the this race the second place in the championship was tied between 2 guys, and guess what, Dani was one amongst them.

Secondly, you may want to redo your homework when you talk so blatantly about Pedrosa's career graph. Barring his rookie year and the 2011 season, he has been consistently finishing either 2nd or 3rd in the points table. Anyone who remotely recalls the race in Misano in 2012 would tell you how bad luck marred his chances to be crowned as the champ. First the 'tyre warmer fiasco' happened, and while he was recovering from that shock, a certain Barbera over enthusiastically ended his championship hopes. Honestly, that was the first time I saw so much of bad luck happen to someone in a day.

Then if you say that Repsol Honda has always been the best bike in the world, and Dani has been a constant underachiever, I wonder what Dovizioso was doing during his stint at Honda. He clearly didn't do any well on the RCV if memory serves me right? But now that Dovizioso is certainly outperforming Rossi's run on the Ducati, we can continue making bullcrap assumptions based on the theory of relativity. Certainly we are not going anywhere with that argument.

Also, when you talk about him being poor in some tracks, could you name anyone, including the sensational Marquez, who is good on every single track in the world?

Total votes: 136

Doesn't get your name on the trophy. Things haven't always gone his way, but that's equally true for guys like Stoner and Lorenzo who have still managed to dominate titles when they had the chance. Misano hurt Dani in 2012, but there again prior to that Jorge had been taken out by Bautista at Assen, and Stoners title was already over with a badly damaged ankle at Indi. Pedrosa's stats show he's better than Dovi for sure but they also show he doesn't win consistently enough compared to the real contenders. 50% less premier class wins than Stoner despite 50% more time on a factory bike, and his numbers don't compare well to Rossi or Jorge either and let's not even talk about Marquez, who Jorge nearly beat even after breaking collarbone twice last year.

Total votes: 128

I completely agree that Dani doesn't have what it takes to be a top class champion. There's been moments that I've believed he could do it but at this point it's very unlikely. That said, he is an incredible rider and I don't think there is any need to try and diminish his achievements. You could say Stoner won in 2011 because Pedrosa was injured in the same way you say Pedrosa only had a great run in the last half of '12 because Stoner was injured. No need to try and cheapen the things he has achieved to prove what he hasn't.

Total votes: 137

You can go through every riders career and say 'if this, if that' but in the end the numbers show Dani's win ratio over 9 years on factory equipment in the top class just isn't good enough to let him win titles. Even if you gave Dani the win in every race he missed in 2011 he was nowhere near Stoner, who dominated in a way Dani hasn't been able to in 9 seasons. It goes without saying he's an amazing rider and had a good career but let's face it they're racing to win titles.

Total votes: 122

I watched the german Sport1 broadcast, where Alex Hofmann (who knows a thing or two about MotoGP) said basically the same, when commenting the outcome of the race.

Total votes: 118

of Max Biaggi that his high mid corner speed style stressed the front tyre too much and he could simply sit behind him until the latter stages of a race and pass him when his front tyre was destroyed (if he even needed to). Perhaps that's not relevant these days but it sure looked like it yesterday.

Phillip island is my local track and it's unbelievably hard on tyres, especially when it's cool. When it's warm/hot I can get a couple of track days out of a rear. When it's cool I can destroy an SC1 pirelli in 4 sessions. Having said that the Aussie superbike boys are able to make the same tyre last with a better setup and riding style and at 10 seconds a lap quicker pace.

Total votes: 133

i swear it looked like Cal got caught up in the fluid left on the track from pol's ealier crash; has that been ruled out?
holy smokes, what a freaking nail biter

Total votes: 117

"But to locals, racing at 4pm at this time of the year is madness."
There is nothing else to say. Bridgestone did a fantastic job and the press need to focus their attention on the real culprit.

The blame for this fiasco lies with DORNA and no one else. If a rider was killed would we justify it by talking about television viewing times in Europe?

Total votes: 162

Typically, 4pm == cold; 5pm == f*n cold

The chances of it being otherwise are pretty remote, and the organisers would have been well aware of that.

Total votes: 145

"The blame for this fiasco lies with DORNA and no one else. If a rider was killed would we justify it by talking about television viewing times in Europe?"

It is the riders' JOB to assess, and ride within, the capabilities of the machine at all times. Not saying its easy - obviously in these conditions it was anything but. But all the teams had access to the weather information and they all knew well in advance what time the race would start and end.

No tires FAILED, some just could not sustain traction at the speed the rider was going. Same for everyone - some just managed it better. Lorenzo managed his tire limitations to second, Marquez' to DNF.

Total votes: 139

The problem with this is that as soon as the riders slow down, the tires cool down, exacerbating the situation. These Bridgestones seem to offer absolutely nothing when they're cold. Its really a no win situation for the riders - either they keep pushing and risk falling off, or they slow down and risk falling off.

Total votes: 144

Honda has promised updated engine for leading production rider. It should be delivered in Motegi, if i remember correctly. Has Scott got one, or not?

Total votes: 110

That was never official, the upgraded engine for the production Honda has been scrapped in favour of this years RCV213V engines, so that upgraded engine will probably never see the light of day or even be built.

Total votes: 106

People seem to be forgetting that we didn't have these tire problems until last year. That coincides with Bridgestone having changed their tire construction to warm up quicker and wear faster, in the name of "more exciting races".

Prior to this, Bridgestones were hard to warm up but very durable. Riders often turned their fastest lap on the last lap of the race, or nearly so. No one ever ran the hard tire, since the medium was always durable enough.

Maybe they should have left the old Bridgestones alone.

Total votes: 111

The tyre problems at PI are due to the track being resurfaced prior to last years race. It's super grippy and combined with the high speed lefts it just destroys tyres.

Total votes: 125

As I remember it, the change to tires that warmed up faster wasn't to make races more exciting. It was to make races safer. Too many riders were falling because their tires hadn't warmed up yet, even though they were already a few laps into things.

I'm pretty sure the riders were involved in demanding the change.

Total votes: 115

This all makes me scared that Phillip Island will go the way of the dodo. Especially since we just lost Laguna Seca and Brno in a constantly precious position. Great tracks seem to be constantly at risk.

If Marquez wins, and Miller comes second the points lead will be 25 again, but Miller has 5 wins to the 4 Marquez would have, so a Win for Miller and a no score for Marquez and the title would be Miller's wouldn't. Sorry to nitpick

Total votes: 126

to Phillip Island is the attendance figures. I think last year's GP was run at a record loss as attendances were hugely down after Casey's retrirement. I would imagine that has something to do with Miller being promoted straight to GP.

Total votes: 120

Pretty sure I saw a graphic pop up during the telecast that said the race-day attendance was 32,000-odd. That's fairly typical for a PI GP sans Stoner - who drew another 10,000-15,000 people on average during his 6 year stint at the top.

I think Stoner's final race there drew 50,000+ (and I am an idiot for not going!)

Total votes: 117

It was a great weekend.

The Moto3 race was delightful. Moto2 very enjojyable to.

The MotoGP race had a great pathos and two very exciting groups fighting for fourtish and tenth place. The scrapings between these riders were even more fun than the Moto3 ones if you keep in mind what kind of beasts they are manhandling.

This is Yamaha track in a way, and where Rossi shines (I cannot recall but it should be his 10th victory overall, one of his strongest circuit), despite that MM93 was up in the front and this shows just how good he is. All the other Hondas fade away, he was up in first place. Though I really feel sorry for Dani, he's not only the best ever non-WC but also one of the unluckiest of all. Back to Marc it's a shame he went down, since Rossi an epic fight with Rossi was at the horizon.

Speaking of Rossi I think is really inspiring to see his determination, willingness to work hard, to achieve such results after a career so long. And another superb victory!

This time I did not watch the race on BT Sports ... how was it?
I may have missed some crazy screaming after the great performances of Crutchlow and Smith. On such a difficult track I believe Cal showed how strong he can be when he is in a good day and at the top of his game. Pity for going down, same reason as Marquez he said. This is where probably having 250 starts, well, account for something. That on the flip side gave Bradley an astonishing podium, a reward for driving patiently (too many mistakes in the first laps, then he cooled down) and the hard work he is putting in every weekend.

Cannot wait for the next one!

Total votes: 107

Can we please have Philip Island at the start of the year, not the end, and at 2pm local time. Now Dorna have control over WSB, they can simply swap the dates. Move MotoGP to March and WSB to October.

Total votes: 119

Both the F1 and the MotoGP race are run by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation. They want the two races at either end of the summer, to maximize exposure and attendance for both events (though on the basis of attendance figures, the only thing which draws a crowd to a MotoGP race is a fast Australian in the premier class). That means that one will always be in February or March, and one in October. It's a much bigger deal to be the first F1 race of the season than to be the second MotoGP race of the season, so MotoGP is condemned to being in October. 

Total votes: 113

This was a very watchable race because of the incidents, but not a classic, we were robbed of that by all the crashes.

But credit where due; Rossi although not fastest all weekend, I didn't see him wobble or put a foot wrong. When conditions are strange, that is what gives you the edge. I'm sorry MM crashed, Rossi might have caught him, then we'd have had a great finish.

Well done to Cal; he seems to finally have found the way to ride that bike and he has outshone the excellent Dovi recently; should he have stayed after all?

And to Bradley, possibly the most intelligent rider on the grid, not as natural as some others, but prepared to work hard and learn. He actually was good all weekend, his qualifying position proved that.

Who knows for next year; I still think Lorenzo & MM are the top prospects, but Rossi is surprisingly excellent sometimes and still a podium contender when he isn't, I and many others doubt he can win another WC against this competition, but he certainly thinks he can do it, and that surely counts for much. So often his races are better than qualifying - strange.

Total votes: 118

I still blame Bridgestone. They knew from last year that tires will make or break the race, they knew the condition of the track, they knew the weather forecast, they tested their tires so they knew the limits of them... they had to stand up against Dorna with their decision to hold the race at a time where temperatures would become a problem and tell them if they'd go ahead, same rules as yesteryear applied.
Dorna is a management team and know nothing about what will work and what not. Of course they're going to try to get the most people watching, but whether the show is shown at 5am or 7am, it doesn't make that much difference. These days people just program the airing and watch it when they get up in the morning or even in the afternoon at the normal (European) airing time.

I do agree with some that say that a good rider, no matter the circumstances, adjusts his speed to the conditions, but even for a good rider to do that, you have to be aware of all the conditions. A key factor in this statement is that none of the riders knew these tires, their limitations and to top it up, the tire didn't give any warning, it just swept away. The lack of testing time and material that these teams get is just as much to blame because this isn't just any tire, it is a NEW tire that is only used in PI.
The way it stands now, is that race weekends are being used as testing ground for the races and something's seriously wrong with that. Parts, tires, etc should be properly tested in advance and race weekends should just be used for fine tuning and finding the sweet spot.

And Bridgestone telling Lorenzo it's his setup that caused the abnormal wear... please tell me why it was working all weekend then and not in the race? Same setup, same tires. Exactly the same problem for VR in Austin?
Also the people who crashed out all had the asymmetric tire... clearly something wasn't right with that specific type. The conditions weren't hot enough, Bridgestone could have warned the teams of the risks opting for that tire if all else failed and again, they didn't. So yes, I do blame Bridgestone.
It would be a very good thing to allow different tire manufacturers in the MotoGP again so that people can see if and where a problem arises. They do allow different motorcycle manufacturers, different suspension manufacturers, different frame manufacturers, ... why is it then that only 1 tire manufacturer is allowed? It will only bring more fiasco's with tires throughout the following years and nobody will know who to point a finger at where it's going wrong.

Total votes: 127

David hit the nail on the head. The temp drop 9 degrees from the start of the race. If the teams knew the temperature would be that much lower they might have been able to adjust their setup, maybe even go with a different tyre.

Total votes: 108

At what point in time will teams have full time meteorologists and real time feed from someone like NOAA?

Total votes: 105

How can anyone say Bridgestone did a good job? Braking with the bike up and losing the front? Rossi decided not to even try the tire when he saw his team-mate crash in practice : "Lorenzo is a rider who never crashes". And practice was held at a normal time.

The extra-soft was way too soft for most of the riders, and the asymmetric apparently was way too hard to cope with low temperatures. Isn't there something in between?

Anyway they were all quite lucky not to get injured after such violent crashes.

And I guess the PR damage is done anyway regarding Bridestone making dual compound tires...

Total votes: 119

"The extra-soft was way too soft for most of the riders, and the asymmetric apparently was way too hard to cope with low temperatures. Isn't there something in between? "

There was. The symmetric soft front.

-jim

Total votes: 124

Extra soft : 100% supersoft compound

Asymmetric : 70% soft (left and center), 30% supersoft (right)

Soft : 100% soft compound.

If the riders couldn't get the Asymmetric tyre upto the temperature on the right side, what hope did they have with the 100% soft tyre?

It wasn't "in between", it was the worst choice possible.

Total votes: 108

I don't think you can blame the time of day for the change in temp. I was there last year and temperatures didn't really change all afternoon. Also, it's summer time in Victoria and sunset isn't until about 7:45.

What does happen though is what Victorians quaintly call a "cool change", when the wind changes to a south-westerly and the temperature typically drops at least 10°C in an hour. This is more exaggerated on the coast as the wind is straight off what is a cold ocean in spring.

Phillip Island is of course one track where an asymmetric tyre makes sense. It sounds like Bridgestone quite understandably erred on the conservative side and used compounds that were a little too hard.

Total votes: 106

It's still early/mid Spring here in Melbourne, Summer doesn't start until mid December in real terms (no matter what the Government has decreed otherwise.)

Nights are cold and the temperature drops from about 3:30pm onwards even on warm days. Which Sunday on the Island wasn't. If they're going to hold the race in October (bad idea) then it should be a 2pm when it's consistently the warmest.

Or the should move it back to the start of the season. The excuse that the GP Corporation uses doesn't hold water - especially seeing they lose tens of multi-millions on the F1 every year (it's subsidised by the taxpayers, apparently both Bernie and Dorna don't have enough money already).

The races would be more popular if they were swapped back to their original times but vested interests made a buck out of the current farce.

Total votes: 121

I've been no fan of Bradley, how he got that ride I'll never know, and how he kept it next year........ well.
But I have to say, I can't help but change my mind about the guy when you see how much a podium meant to him. He's obviously trying 100% every race.
He's made a convert out of me.
As for No 35. What an attempt. Where has he been?
He must be kicking himself, race after race the Ducs are beating the satellite Honda's and now, he is too.
Wrong bike next year me thinks.

Total votes: 124

He was chatting to Gavin Emmett for BTSport and Brad's jaw started to wobble, and he just stopped. We didn't see the tears, as they were hidden behind his large sun glasses, but they must definitely have been there!

Great result for Bradley. Well done!

Total votes: 132

I never made the connection before, but is Gavin Emmett related to David Emmett?

Total votes: 118

No, we are not related. I get asked the question a lot, though. Nor are either of us related to the former racer Sean Emmett, I should add. All just coincidence.

Total votes: 108

There is a well known saying in the areas around Philip Island: "If you don't like the weather, just wait 10 minutes." The area is also known for having all four seasons in the one day - every day! That is, weather and temperature can change dramatically in a very short space of time. On Sunday it dropped 10 deg C in a period of 30 minutes. This drop commenced whilst MotoGP bikes were on the grid, but before the race started.

Given this scenario, tyre choice was a lottery. It also put Bridgestone in a no win situation. Tyres that worked in the first half of the race, weren't going to work in the second half (and vice versa).

For those arguing that the weekend should be swapped with the WSBK weekend in February - forget it! The weather is just as changeable at that time of year. Anyone remember the WSBK race of a few years back? The only thing capable of getting around the track was a boat.

Philip Island is one of the most southerly parts of Australia. It catches the northern tip of the "roaring forties" as well as cold fronts coming up from Antarctica.

It is what it is. There will always be issues around weather, temperature and tyre choice.

But, the racing ain't boring.

Total votes: 122

We need to tow Phillip Island north... anchor it somewhere between Moreton Island and Fraser Island.

Of course the fact that I live thereabouts is totally irrelevant :)

Total votes: 124

Sepang is 1600 local time again I see.
Anyone for a tropical downpour?
Two years ago that was the start of the end of Ben Spies career.
Stupid.

Total votes: 116

Bridgestone and Dorna can split the blame here, but they are to blame for what happened, and Bridgestone provides the tires. That many MotoGP riders falling, unable to control their machines, etc., in a dry race is an indication that something was badly wrong. You saw the same thing happening in the Moto2 race, to a lesser extent.

Total votes: 119

Did anyone read Colin Edwards 'opinion' on tires in a British mag? They asked him the difference between the Bridgestones and Michelins, since he's ridden both. He said that the Bstones have stunning grip, but very little 'feel' and your basically riding them on faith....they stuck the last time around, so.... The Michelins have stunning 'feel', but they don't grip as much as the Bstones. OK, which did he prefer? Michelins because you know exactly what they are doing at all times.

When 3 riders, of this caliber, lose the front, all in the same way, its gotta say something about the tires. MM said that the extra soft would last 10 laps, but he didn't say anything about the soft (David, anything on that?) Rossi's comments about the asym tire and Jorge never crashing says volumes.

Also, I read something that MM was pretty calm about the crash and losing the race, as he's already WC. Said it was a learning experience for next year (as was Aragon). David, can you comfirm that?

FWIW: last year, while wandering the pits at Laguna Seca, I started talking to an older guy (older then me and I'm 58) about tires. I told him what I rode ('12 Multistrada) and what tires I had used/what I liked/etc. He said he was in the 'tire industry', but wouldn't say in what capacity/who he worked for/etc. he said as far as motorcycle tires, there were two brands: Dunlop and Michelin. I asked him why he was saying that. He said that those two companies were way better ON THE QC SIDE, then the other brands. Granted, he was talking about tires available to the public.

BTW....as always, GREAT write up.

Total votes: 112

Who can remember when it was Michelins on the Honda and Dunlops on the Yamaha before Bridgestone showed up at the party. Back then it was Michelin that had stunning grip right up until it let go, and Dunlops had that forgiving grip that would slide a bit before letting go.

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Total votes: 121

That was always the Michelin reputation--great grip until suddenly there wasn't.

Total votes: 106

can somebody please put some onboard cameras on the moto3 bikes? Vazquez zig-zagging around others on the front straight, Fenati just throwing himself into turn 1... I really liked this race (I like them all, really) and it would be great to see some onboard footage!

Total votes: 118

I believe this is something Dorna is working on for next year. They have just changed the minimum weight to allow for onboard cameras...

Total votes: 121

"Bridgestone and Dorna can split the blame here, but they are to blame for what happened, and Bridgestone provides the tires."

This helps illustrate that there are many components to staging a race and they all have to be balanced. Not just riders and rubber but how to pay for it all. It's been noted that attendance is way down at PI post-Stoner. Maybe the only way to make the numbers work is by gathering a larger European audience - which in turn necessitates a later start time. Those who lambast the greedy promoter for this might be careful about what they wish for. Laguna Seca is another great track where the circus simply could not afford to race. Would you rather have PI at 4pm or not at all?

Total votes: 95

a tyre failure!

It was yet again a big tyre failure!!!

Some one else mentioned it here and hes true, bridgestone had(HAD) great tyres. the old bridgestones were getting faster and setting the fastest lap in the end.
Now the have heat resisting tyres with no grip and dont last a race.
On GPINSIDE you have a way better picture of the front tyres made by JL him self.
that tyre was just gone. now did nobuddy see vale was faster in the corners then JL.... says enough.... not setting only tyre failure

Total votes: 117

How many riders on that grid spent most of their careers in a time when everybody's tires went wonkey 3/4ths of the way through the race?

Perhaps the few left remembered a time when fastest laps and lap records weren't being broken at the end of races.

Total votes: 116

Don't know if Rossi would appreciate the "old dog" moniker!

But watching him last year at Lukey Heights / MG you could see that he doesn't ask as much of his tyres as most of the other top riders, especially in the transition phase. So definitely, he hasn't forgotten lessons learned many years ago.

Kind of a pity that MM is around, as otherwise Rossi could be fighting for another Championship!

Total votes: 112

Best ride of the day was by Cal Crutchlow by far, even if he did fall on the last lap. He told you why he fell in an interview. He SLOWED DOWN which cooled the tire down and down he went. Even Stoner in his day said on the Ducati you had to keep the heat in the front tire. He worked at that in the races and kept pushing even when over three seconds in the lead. Slow down........fall down.

Total votes: 112

The drop in temp was predicted almost all day, the riders knew it was going to happen. I was walking around feeling pretty warm in a t shirt there, then before the GP race, had to put back on jumper, bike jacket, beanie. Also quite noticeable again, the lack of people on the fence at the hayshed. This is one of my favourite spots to watch, apart from Lukey heights, stoner, and turn 1. But anywhere is good really at this balls-out racing track. but usually at the hayshed you have people 2, 3 deep at the fence, this time there was even empty spots on the fence here and there.

But attendance numbers at PI are not down only due to Stoner, PI is way down south/east of Australia, and it's not exactly convenient to get to for race fans, involving long road trips. mine was a quite short 2000k return on the bike, which is nothing compared to the fans from out west and way up North. but a trip that takes in the alpine regions of two of states, along with Victoria's beautiful, wild coastline regions, it is a truly fantastic scenic ride, and something to look forward to every year.

It would be a great shame for PI to lose the GP to say, Eastern Creek (now called Sydney Motorsport Park) which is more North outside sydney, and would enable attendance for greater numbers, especially taking advantage of our biggest city population. (Sydney) But the Creek (no offense) is not a patch on the island. Fast-tracking Miller, if he proves successful at adapting the the big bikes and goes on to make a good GP career, could well keep the island safe for years to come, in terms of more attendance.

Moto3 just makes me smile. These guys are the Rockstars of racing, for me. You can't help shouting watching them come off the main straight and chucking it right into turn one, everyone centimetres from each other, feather-light touches on throttle and bike weighting keeping everyone from coming unstuck - just blows my mind every time.

And Rossi - you have to think those Ducati demons are now exorcised. To grab his second win, which he did by being a smarter, more experienced racer than MM - and to grab that win in his 250th GP ? Phenomenal. When I arrived I saw motorbike cops with big yellow stickers on their fairings celebrating the 250th GP - that is the sway of the man who now has made that smile more permanent again - and that's great to see.

Most of all - Thank you Phillip Island - long may you stay on the Racing Calendar. A truly fantastic experience, again.

Total votes: 134

You would have been just up a bit and cross the track from me. I was marshalling at Turn 7 , the left-hander going into the Hayshed, which was a very quiet spot in terms of marshaling but it did provide a great spot to watch the racing from, which was nice.

That was the 6th year in a row for me attending the PI MotoGP and 1st time marshalling, it definitely was an experience being on the inside of the track as a marshal though.

It is noticeable how much the crowds have differed pre-Stoner and post-Stoner. As you have said, it is a long way to go to access the circuit, but aren't a number of other tracks on the calendar just as far; Aragon, Motegi, Argentina(?), others?

PI is a beautiful track and in a different (higher) class to SMSP (Eastern Creek), but I fear the amount of crowds that SMSP could draw, being in Western Sydney, would surely be a cash grab for DORNA. Hopefully PI continues their contract and doesn't let it slip.

Total votes: 113

Eastern Creek (SMSP) is a no-go in many ways, most of all the track changes in recent years which have made it so much more dangerous for bike racing. There are concrete walls where there never used to be, installed so as to try and make two small circuits out of one big one. The circuit is owned by a car racing body and bike racing considerations are pretty low on their priority list. Bikes still race there because it is the only circuit left in NSW, besides Wakefield Park which is really just a small club-level circuit.

Besides that, the likelihood of drawing a larger crowd at SMSP than PI is unlikely. Large population or not, it's hard to get Sydney people to go to anything really. And with a layout which does not lend itself to close racing at a world level, and a setting in the middle of an industrial estate in Western Sydney, it simply does not inspire people to do that once-a-year long distance trek that Phillip Island does.

I went to both Eastern Creek GP's, and probably 10 or more at Phillip Island. There is simply no comparison, Phillip Island is basically our Isle of Man - a special setting which creates the feeling of an EVENT - regardless of its shortcomings (in PI's case weather). Lets hope they can continue to keep it on the calendar, we've lost too many of the really great circuits already.

Total votes: 115

P.I. is one of the few 'pure' tracks in the entire motoGp racing world, where the artificial differences between the capability of machinery - due to design philosophy or regulations - can be transcended by rider ability. Now we have lost Laguna Seca, it may well be realistically the LAST jousting ground for the true Knights of the Crotch-Rocket.

If Dorna were to discard P.I. from the calendar, it would - in my opinion - be the absolute proof that the concept of 'sporting triumph' rather than 'It's Entertainment' has gone from the owners of the motoGp circus. I fear that Stoner was far more prescient than many have credited him with, regarding the future of the 'sport' - and the P.I. round will disappear.

MotoGp fans worldwide would welcome a shorter 'winter' break from racing, and a revamped Southern Hemisphere race schedule that features P.I. at a better time - around mid-November would be better - would provide continued interest.

Start at Argentina in late September; thence to Japan, Indonesia, Australia and India before wrapping up the year. Drop Valencia.

Total votes: 103

Totally agree on your last point. Now they own both world titles, surely they can arrange it so we have racing for almost the whole year, one series biased toward the start of the year (WSBK at a guess) and another biased toward the end (MGP), leverage the north/south hemispheres to take advantage of their seasons rather than fight them. Doubt it'll happen, there's probably a soccer match on they don't want to clash with or something.

As for great current tracks, I'd say both Mugello and Brno qualify, though the latter is apparently under threat of losing it's place. Tracks I miss include Assen, Hockenheim, Monza, Salzburg, Spa. Arguably Turkey could even be on the list, an almost characterful Tilke aberration. Riders who could have potentially received life altering/ending injuries at some of those tracks would no doubt disagree! :)

Total votes: 104

Personally I also loved Donnington. Do you notice what most of these great tracks have in common? They are hilly tracks, and there's something special about seeing bikes thundering into a corner at the end of a hill.

Total votes: 100

Blimey, I forgot about that. Good!

Total votes: 107

I am a great fan of Racing, a die hard fan of MotoGP.

Lorenzo did like the track as well when he was here for some kind of a promotional event for Yamaha. He's done some laps on a road bike Yamaha 250 R15.....lol by the way he was @ the front :D :D :D 'LEADING'

I hope my dream comes true.

And believe me, IMHO The attendance for sure will beat all the records so far held by any circuit in the world.

And if they setup a Rossi stand, They better hire a a massive stand, Coz otherwise there is going to be a Stampede.

Total votes: 108

The Yamaha is not 250 R 15, it is just R 15 where the 15 denotes 150 cc. The new R 25 which is yet to come to India is the R 25. What Lorenzo rode at the BIC in Noida was a Yamaha R 15. But don't get too excited about any international racing coming to India. The owners of the BIC are not making any noise about bringing any racing series to India after F1 cancelled midway through a five race contract and Dorna cancelled the first ever WSBK race without the circuit even hosting it. I think given the strange governance and tax structures in this country no more racing of any variety (international series) is unlikely to come. BIC has become a playground for those who have Audi's, Mercedes' and BMW's to race their cars and there will be one round of the one make series of Honda, Yamaha and TVS that will race at BIC along with the MMRT and the Kari Speedway. Seriously don't get your hopes up.

Total votes: 106

I really like this three-races-in-three-weeks thing.

Total votes: 105

So, if you slowed down by a little, it might let go. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Unless you slowed down just enough so that it wouldn't. All a question of judgement, some judged better than others.

Edit: I wrote that first bit in a hurry, now for something a little more provocative :-). It seems a fair while now since we were all, me included, speculating on whether Marquez could make 450 points, and he seems more mortal now after the last few races. I can't help wondering how the title might have panned out if Rossi hadn't had that shocker in COTA and binned it in Aragon. I reckon he'd have had another 25 points or so and we just might have been in for a valencia showdown. Pointless speculation of course, not least because you then have to say 'what if Marquez hadn't crashed at PI' etc. My point is, though, that I don't think Marquez has that much of a margin on Rossi (or Lorenzo) to be classed as a super alien.

I'm beginning to wonder if for the first half of the season Marquez wasn't something of a repeat of Stoner in 2007, i.e. right man, right bike, right year, and whether like Stoner he'll find it much harder to over the coming years. The Yamaha's certainly seem equal to the Honda's now, and 2015 could be interesting.

One other randowm comment - earlier this year I thought the season was going to be one of the most boring ever. In the event, what a year! and it's not even over yet!

Total votes: 119

everyone is pushing the envelope, even Bridgestone.

They are doing exactly the same as Yamaha, Honda and Ducati are doing in learning new ways to go faster. Just as Honda had a chatter problem, Ducati have an understeer problem and Yamaha had a throttle response issue they all, including Bridgestone, have technical challenges which is the exact reason they enter the sport. They don't race to reinforce what they already know they do it to learn what they DON'T know.

The race remained a test of skill, experience and talent so I have no problem with it. Marquez is very young, had a huge amount of crashes last season (luckily not on race day) and made some silly mistakes in recent times, Espargaro is also a pup and has crashed plenty and while Crutchlow is no doubt sick of the taste of tarmac this season. They are not without "crash history" and if Crutchlow had kept it upright for just a few more corners we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

Total votes: 104