2016 Qatar MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Moto2 Madness, and the Dawning of a New Era

May you live in interesting times, runs an apocryphal Chinese curse. The first Grand Prix of 2016 certainly provided us with plenty of events which might be termed interesting, in both the common sense of the word and the apocryphal curse. The three races at Qatar were thrilling, tense, intriguing, and mind-bogglingly bizarre.

It is hard to know where to start. The first race of the day proved to be the most conventional, Moto3 serving up its usual treat. A very strong group of eight riders, including all of the championship favorites bar Fabio Quartararo, battled all race long for victory, Niccolo Antonelli finally coming out on top by just 0.007 seconds, beating Brad Binder into second.

The Moto3 draft lottery

Binder had controlled the group along with Romano Fenati for much of the race, and spent the last laps trying to convert that control into a win. The long run from the final corner to the line leaves two equally risky options: try to follow another rider through the final corner, and use their slipstream to slingshot yourself to victory; or try to push early in the lap and build just enough of a gap to hold off any attempts by others at using the draft. Binder settled on the latter, and nearly pulled it off.

Nearly, but not quite. Niccolo Antonelli took a deserved and impressive win after a tough weekend. Arriving at the track with a fever, Sunday was the first day he had started to feel vaguely human. There was also the matter of a broken collarbone, suffered in a fall during practice. Antonelli's tendency to crash is often held against him, but it clearly did not slow him down at Qatar.

Star of the lead group was surely Nicolo Bulega, the 16-year-old rookie teammate of Romano Fenati, and product of the VR46 Riders Academy. Bulega was impressive throughout practice, as were two other big-name rookies coming in to Moto3 from the FIM CEV, Aron Canet and Joan Mir. Unlike the two Spaniards, however, Bulega finished in the front group, with a genuine shot at the podium. Bulega has all the makings of being something special in the future.

Moto2 madness – and not in a good way

If the Moto3 race was conventional, Moto2 was anything but. A mass jump start took a ridiculously long time to sort out, throwing the race into chaos. In the end, eight riders were penalized, including seven of the first eight men on the grid. Sam Lowes, Alex Rins, Johann Zarco and Marcel Schrotter were all punished quickly, and came in to do their ride through penalties within a couple of laps. A lap or so later, Takaaki Nakagami and Robin Mulhauser were also given ride throughs, which they duly served (though Nakagami looked like missing his ride through window and risking a black flag).

What was bizarre is that the first four to be penalized were the four whose violations of the rules were the least obvious. Lowes had barely moved, only just getting his front wheel onto the paint before the lights went out. Rins moved a little further, but clearly braked trying to stop. Zarco also clearly moved, but also tried to stop.

The two most egregious offenders were not punished until the very end of the race. Both Franco Morbidelli and Sandro Cortese moved a huge amount, though Morbidelli braked to stop himself. Cortese just kept going, clearly gaining an advantage, yet it took the best part of half an hour for Race Direction to place their starts under investigation, then ten more minutes to hand them a penalty, by which time it was too late for them to do a ride through, and so they had a twenty second time penalty imposed instead.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

There is an awful lot wrong with every aspect of these penalties. Firstly, the MotoGP rulebook states that riders who commit jump starts must be informed within four laps of the start. Clearly, that was not the case for either Morbidelli or Cortese, punishment handed down with just a lap to go. Were their time penalties even legal? Race Direction has a lot of freedom to adapt the rules in exceptional circumstances, which this may perhaps be regarded as. But for such a late decision to be taken is utterly bizarre. The only reason I can think of for considering this is that another team issued with a penalty complained about Morbidelli and Cortese. Race Director Mike Webb was not immediately available for comment, nor did Race Direction send out a press release, leaving us all guessing for the moment.

The lateness of the penalties imposed on Morbidelli and Cortese proved to be rather unfair. While the two men had just twenty seconds added to their race times, Rins, Lowes and Zarco, who were punished earlier, and lost more time in the ride through, and finished behind Morbidelli. Rins' ride through had taken him approximately twenty-three seconds: he finished in eighth, less than a tenth behind Morbidelli. Lowes, too, had reason to be upset. His ride through had taken twenty-five seconds, and he finished less than two seconds behind Morbidelli. Subtract their penalties, and Rins and Lowes are fighting for the win, with Luthi a couple of seconds behind.

The problem is that the twenty seconds added to Morbidelli and Cortese's race time is a fixed penalty set in the regulations. There is no room to impose another penalty, despite the fact that the length of a ride through can be either much longer, or much shorter than twenty seconds. At Valencia, a twenty second penalty is harsh; at Le Mans or Sepang, it is very lenient indeed.

For those with an inquiring mind, you can find the rules on jump starts on page 35 of the FIM regulations, under heading 1.18.14, which I posted on Twitter on Sunday. The rules are clear: no motion is allowed before the red lights are dimmed, though Race Direction may decided to ignore such movement if the rider involved manages to bring the bike to a stop, and not gain an advantage. You could argue that Morbidelli stopped his bike after the jump start, and did not gain an advantage. But the same argument could be made of Lowes, and possibly Rins and Zarco as well. Two races after the controversial events at Sepang, the last thing Race Direction needed was more controversy about the rules.

Meet the new boss?

After the chaos of Moto2, MotoGP saw a return to some semblance of normality. Indeed, perhaps too much of a semblance of normality: five of the top six were the same riders who had finished in the top six in Qatar in 2015. If Andrea Iannone had not crashed out, it would have been six out of six. The top six finishers were all on factory bikes, though the good news was that it was Maverick Viñales in sixth on board the Suzuki GSX-RR, making it four manufacturers in the top six, rather than the three it was last year.

Lap times were very consistent, and little happened that was entirely unexpected. It was by no means a boring race, but the New World Order we had all fervently been hoping for with the advent of the Michelin tires and spec electronics singly failed to materialize. The new boss looked very much like the old boss, though with a lick of paint and a spot of lick and polish.

Jorge Lorenzo did what he believed he was capable of in 2015, winning the race with a comfortable margin. It had been far from easy, but the pace laid down by the Movistar Yamaha rider once he took the lead had been punishing. All Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone, Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez could do was follow, though they could never get close enough to challenge.

With two laps to go, Lorenzo turned up the pace, breaking the lap record set by Casey Stoner back in 2008 and cracking into the 1'54s. It was too much for Dovizioso, Márquez and Rossi, and Lorenzo had victory in the bag. If he had set out to prove a point, he had done so most emphatically. "Today, I spoke on the track," he said afterwards, calling the win one of the three best performances of his career.

Laying down the law

The way Lorenzo disposed of Dovizioso and Iannone was perhaps the most impressive aspect of his victory, (apart of course from the withering pace he set throughout). The Yamaha M1 was outgunned on top speed down the straight by the Ducati, though Lorenzo could stay with the Desmosedici in the draft, something which Marc Márquez found almost impossible on the Honda. Lorenzo never let either Dovizioso nor Iannone get close enough to use their horsepower advantage, and when he needed to, he dispatched the Italians with ease.

The key to Lorenzo's victory had been tire choice, and his decision to dump the harder tire and use the softer. He had been using the harder tire during warm up, he told the press conference, but had not felt happy with the tire. He saw that Maverick Viñales had used the soft tire and been quick, so Lorenzo decided to roll the dice. His gamble paid off handsomely.

Dovizioso was content with second, seeing it as a return to form after a long and difficult period at the end of 2015. "Last year we fight for the victory so everyone expected me to be fast," Dovizioso told the press conference. "But this is not the reality. The reality is we need to remember how we finished the season and the feeling wasn’t so good." The good news for Ducati was that Dovizioso felt he had a better base with the bike than last year, and he hoped to carry that forward.

Marc Márquez was more resigned to having taken third, rather than content. The Honda RC213V was suffering badly with acceleration, getting left for dead by both the Ducati and the Yamaha out of the final corner and on to the straight. The problem looked even worse than last year, when Lorenzo was easily gapping both Márquez and Pedrosa out of the final corner at Valencia. He had reverted to his old riding style, having abandoned any attempt at trying to ride more smoothly to suit the Michelins. The good news for Márquez was that it worked, something which wasn't always the case in 2015, causing him to crash out of many a race.

Third time not so lucky

Valentino Rossi was content to settle for fourth, knowing that this was all that was possible. Unlike Lorenzo, who had gambled on using the soft rear tire, Rossi had stuck with the hard rear, and gotten the best out of the tire he had. Electing to run the soft may not necessarily have made any difference, however. "It's very important to understand the rear tire choice," Rossi told reporters, "because I don't know if with the soft I can be more competitive. Because me and Márquez with the hard, it looks like we suffer a bit more compared to Lorenzo and Dovizioso. But this is not sure, so maybe I put the soft and I go slower."

Rossi's problem was that he simply had no trumps left up his sleeve. "Unfortunately, it's not a mistake about strategy," Rossi said. "Is just because I don't have any more than this. So I was strong, but not strong enough to try one attack, I did not have one sector, one braking, one part where I was faster than the guys in front of me. I was always there, but always ten meters behind." He was fast enough to follow, but not fast enough to attack.

Despite this, Rossi was still pleased with his race, taking it as a sign he can be competitive down the stretch. "It's not so bad," he said of his performance. "It's better arrive fourth two seconds from the first, than arrive second or third at ten seconds." There are tracks coming up where he will be stronger.

Where the factories stand so far

So what can we say about the relative strength of the bikes? First of all, the Yamaha M1 is still the best package on the grid, as witnessed by the fact the Movistar Yamaha team had two riders in the top four. Their advantage over the Ducatis has shrunk, however, the Desmosedici GP improving in braking and turning, and having a clear advantage in outright top speed.

The Hondas are still struggling, only Marc Márquez capable of being truly competitive. Dani Pedrosa finished fourteen seconds behind Lorenzo, while Jack Miller and Tito Rabat finished dead last (though thankfully for the person tasked with writing the press release, still just in the points), forty seconds off the pace. Cal Crutchlow felt he could have been with Pedrosa, but a problem with the timing loop sensor meant that the bike got lost on the track, could not recalibrate itself, and had traction control and engine braking settings kicking in at the wrong point on the circuit. A lack of engine braking caused Crutchlow to crash.

This is a familiar tale, having also happened to Yamaha and Ducati in the past, both of whom have long used Magneti Marelli hardware. Marelli ECUs are prone to losing their way on the track, calibrating themselves using the track timing loops, but making critical errors. The advent of the spec software era merely means that these bugs will now reach a wider audience.

And Suzuki? The bike is a little reminiscent of the old V-twin 500cc two strokes, though perhaps the brilliant Proton KR two-stroke triple would be a better comparison. The Suzuki has power, and it handles superbly, by they are still getting murdered on horsepower. Maverick Viñales told reporters that he was losing ground to Pedrosa on acceleration, a worrying development given Marc Márquez' problems with acceleration. If you are slower than the slowest bike at one point in the track, that does not bode well.

Michelin manage magnificently

How was Michelin's return to the premier class? The leaders finished the race seven seconds faster than last year, with a brand new lap record, smashing Stoner's time from 2008 set on a Bridgestone-shod Ducati. Comments after the race were very positive, and genuinely so, rather than being forced due to sponsorship obligations. "Sincerely, the pace was a surprise," Valentino Rossi said. "Because it was a great pace. This means that Michelin did a very good job, and also the electronics is good."

A slightly more worrying development is the fact that only fifteen of the twenty starters actually finished. Five riders crashed out, almost all in the same way, by losing the front. Though everyone was full of praise for the job done by Michelin, especially with the new front tire which got rid of most of the problems, the front tire still has its foibles. It will take a while for the teams to dial this in, especially as this was the first time the MotoGP riders had raced directly after the Moto2 race, which tends to leave a lot of fat, juicy Dunlop rubber on the track.

Electronics – same as it ever was

The electronics, too, performed well, now that the teams had had three races to get them dialed in. There was still plenty to learn and plenty of room for improvement, but overall, the tires had withstood the punishment imposed upon them by the common software. "Like with the tires, with the electronics we expect more difference," Rossi said. "We expect to struggle more. The electronics are a little it less, but anyway work very well."

The tale of Scott Redding illustrates how much room there still is for improvement. The Englishman had suffered in the first half of the race, after the team had decided to set the bike up to use less fuel and use less power. "The package was good, we just didn’t take advantage of it," Redding said. "If we had the full power in the beginning – what I switched to half way through – we could have made a difference, got up the road and settled into a rhythm."

Such lessons are more readily identified and more easily fixed in a factory team, with its army of data engineers to pore over every trace and signal after each run in testing and practice. Hence the fact that the top six riders were all on factory bikes. Though the common software makes for a more level playing field, the factories will still have the advantage.

The lesson of the first MotoGP race of the new era is that not as much has changed as many hoped. With time to go over the data, and to watch the race again, there may be more clues to what the future of MotoGP might look like. Over the course of the next week, we will take a deeper dive into what the Michelin/common software era means for the premier class.


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Total votes: 217
Total votes: 81

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Comments

I think we're going to be looking at a 2009-esque season where any one of the top three can and will win at a particular track and the wins will be pretty even so it will come down to consistency.

Lorenzo pulled away but not with as large a gap on each lap as he did at Jerez or Aragon last year. I think that last little bit of set up mystery will factor in to who wins where.

Did Marquez comment on whether he felt he should have gone for the softer rear? He and Valentino never looked great out of the final corner.

Total votes: 93

In the press conference he said that for him the soft wouldn't allow him to ride like he wants. Therefore he couldn't get the lap time. He noted that he is more aggressive with the tires. So the option for him was easy. Hard/Hard.

Total votes: 88

I actually found it quite disheartening with regards to close racing, when Lorenzo dropped the hammer (butter just doesn't have the same ring to it) with a couple of laps to go.
He was able to put .75 seconds on in one lap. It make me think he was just taking it easy to see how the tyres held up and had a fair amount of speed in reserve

Total votes: 102

Not sure just what it is, but simething about the weekend seems odd. Is the Honda going through tires as well as Marquez has gone back to looser riding?
Did Dovi derail an Iannone challenge for the win? That bugged me a bit.
Did the tires ever go off? Did the riders struggle with TC settings? I expected something more pronounced.
Yes, exciting, but yes, processional MotoGP race after an interesting beginning. Not what I had hoped.

Moto2 start - what a turd! Lowes looked gutted. Weird race.

Total votes: 105

... After the first 5 laps or so. Really disappointed by the lack of overtakes. WSBK so far has been the championship to watch. Frankly, they are on another level of entertainment for the fans.

Total votes: 99

...and to a lesser degree Lorenzo, during the podium ceremony was despicable. Like or dislike whoever you please, but any "fan" that would jeer one of these riders, who risk their lives to entertain them, is loathsome.

Total votes: 236

It's like great, you're (not you) a Rossi fan. That's fine, but hating and booing every rider that ruffles his feathers is ridiculous! Everyone thinks when Rossi retires the sport is dead, but maybe it will start a new era of fans that aren't completely blinded by the hype. Though that might be a big ask.

Total votes: 147

Rossi doesn't hold all the responsibility for the fans reaction. JL has brought most of it on himself. But hey, can't have daylight with out the dark and GP has and will need Villians and Heros to keep the casual fan interested.

For us crazy's. We don't need anything but solid racing. The added tension between the two make it more exciting when they are together on track(and off). But we would never boo a rider just because we don't like them or what they have said about our rider of choice.

Total votes: 130

Someone actually told me the other day that they will stop watching when he retires. I couldnt believe it. I mean sure he is and entertanng racer and has been involved in some of the best races I've seen but to stop watching? Its a strange world.

Total votes: 93

People should be grateful to have the chance to watch one of the greatest ever but to appreciate an all time great in a sport means appreciating the sport in the first place. I think a lot of people like to be melodramatic these days.

Total votes: 98

I remember traveling to Philip island in 2013. The boos for Lorenzo made me sick. Like or dislike a rider I get it but to actually boo someone for winning is just wrong.

Total votes: 100

A lot has been spoken of the Michelin tires and the characteristics of the Michelin front and rear compounds. Can David (or anyone else) comment how the bigger rim size (going from 16.5 to 17 inches) affects the handling and braking performance? Surely that has a part to play in bringing the race-time down by 7 seconds as well? It seems that it got very little attention in the flurry of changes this year.

Rant : I find it extremely amusing that most Rossi fans can accept "fast enough to follow, but not fast enough to attack" for his performance in this race. No one would question that, but when it was applied on the Marquez-Lorenzo battle at Valencia 2015 (or even Dovi-Lorenzo this race at Qatar), it was somehow "blatant" that Marquez had no intent of overtaking Lorenzo just to mess with Rossi. Just look at the difference in opinions forced to fit with a per-determined narrative.

Total votes: 160

Stop reading and accepting people on social media as 'most Rossi fans' and stick to looking at what people say on places like here.

There's a few thousand comments on a main MotoGP Facebook post. Most of that is made up of idiots of which Rossi has a larger percentage of 'supporters' because he has proportionately more fans but there are idiot Lorenzo and Marquez 'fans' too. At a race track with 80,000 people there is still usually at least half wearing Rossi merchandise and I've never witnessed any booing myself from anyone at the GP's I've been too. If every one of those people writing on Facebook go to every single GP they are still a tiny part of the crowd.

It isn't good for any sport when it seems like social media is an accurate representation of a fan base and the same thing occurs on a much bigger scale for other sports. All it does it maintain a negativity and winds people up. Imaging if the people sending death threats to Simoncelli a few years ago were all of a sudden given control of headlines in a major motorsport magazine? It would be a massive misrepresentation of how people really acted.

I recently deleted Facebook after I found myself looking through the comments when I didn't want to. I already have this place to come and discuss races with. I expect I'll have a lot more fun writing and reading about this season.

Total votes: 111

I hate to beat the dead horse yet again but I saw literally zero Rossi fans (in real life and on social media) that were open to the idea of Marquez simply not having enough pace to overtake Lorenzo at Valencia. It's extremely hard to overtake Lorenzo when he's banging out perfect laps (as he does), the best you can do is to hang on to his tail, as demonstrated yet again today.

The only difference between MM-JL at Valencia and AD-JL here is that no one sees today's race with yellow glasses and no eyelids were batted.

Total votes: 116

Stretching much? I must have imagined Dovi passing Lorenzo......But hey, we all love a good flogging, have at it!

Total votes: 103

All ifs and buts, but I do think Iannone would've been a bigger challenge to JL than his teammate Dovi (never) was. Still, quite a performance from the Mallorcan, whose post-race antics were a bit exaggerated for my taste though.

As for the booing: very very unfortunate, but I'm afraid there's a lot more to come at many other tracks.

Total votes: 105

I picked him to win this race. And I think he had the pace to do it. He looked stronger all weekend than Dovi through the infield. And having watch AI career, there's no doubt he would have tried to throw JL of his rhythm sooner rather than latter.

Total votes: 107

I thought there would be more comment on the start to the Moto2 race. Surely, something was amiss if so many of the top riders jumped the start, something that Alex Marquez alluded to in his post-crash interview. IMO, something went wrong (the lights did seem to flicker) and no-one wants to put their hand up and take responsibility. There must be a lot of very pissed-off riders, team managers, sponsors etc in that paddock right now. Shame, as I reckon it would've been the race of the day, but credit to Tom Luthi, he would've been there or thereabouts regardless.

Total votes: 104

... (+44.00 mins on MotoGP.com) & there's no flicker on the Morbidelli's camera view of the starting lights BUT on the overhead view from the helicopter there is a very powerful camera flash from what must be the base of the control box, right in front of the riders, just before they jump start. Under artificial lighting I'd call this extremely irresponsible & possibly what cost several riders the race.

Total votes: 96

I imagine the frame rate for the onboard cameras is probably limited to 24fps so it is not definitive to say whether or not the starting lights flickered from that view.

Total votes: 98

It looked to me like the Andreas were just starting to pull a gap. "Right team mate. Let's tow each other around for the next 15 laps. Pull a big enough gap with all these extra ponies, that no one else can catch us, THEN let's see who's got the cojones to get to the line first". :'-( Oh what could have been!

Total votes: 113

As a JL fan, I was worried that they were going to do exactly that. I don't know why Iannone made a move on Dovi so soon. I do know that the gap they did have disappeared quickly when they were dog fighting at the front.

Maybe Iannone thought he had the better pace and would be able to gap them faster? Maybe someone will ask him in a presser.

Total votes: 90

Remember, Dovi made the move first. Iannone took the lead after lap 1 and they were running comfortably at the front until Dovi made a move on Iannone. I'm not saying that was bad, just making sure we get all the facts.

I would agree that the fighting among the Ducatis at that stage was maybe not the best idea. At that time I felt they could ride away from the group behind together.

Total votes: 107

Before the race there was some speculation on how many young riders, with or without factory rides, would now be able to challenge for podiums. Fewer electronic assists would level the playing field, new tyres would throw off some people, and the combination of the two would bring the field closer together.

Rather than to get all hyped up by all the pre-season speculation, I predicted that the factory riders would come out on top again and that the satellite riders would, again, be a further ten to twenty seconds down the road. Low and behold, we see the same six factory riders challenging for exactly the same top six positions as last season. And the satellite riders were indeed nowhere near the front group, or even the second group of Dani and Maverick for that matter.

I'm disappointed the pace was so high strung that the race became a bit dull to watch, but I'm not surprised about which riders we saw at the sharp end. Surely the Ducatis will struggle a bit more than they did last night at tracks that lack a kilometer straight, and surely others will occasionally feature closer to the front, but right now: nothing much has changed over the winter that makes a significant impact on who gets the big points and who has to fight for scraps.

Total votes: 97

Obviously I can't comment on whether something went wrong with the lights, but of course once one of them twitched, they all twitched - a natural reaction.

Since seven of the eight given jump starts were on the front three rows of the grid, and Folger led regardless off the line, surely the jumps didn't make that much difference to the order among them and it would have made more sense to have applied the exceptional circumstances clause and given none of them a penalty - that's what the room to manoeuvre in the rules is there for after all. That way, the overall race result would look right.

You can imagine that in race control most of the attention is on the live action so verifying eight jump starts will take a bit of time, but the 25 minutes which elapsed (with no major on-track incidents?) between Nakagami and Mulhauser getting penalised and Morbidelli and Cortese being even investigated has to be queried.

Interesting that it looks like Zarco pitted of his own accord (http://resources.motogp.com/files/results/2016/QAT/Moto2/RAC/Session.pdf... - timeline on second page) - he came in at the end of lap two, and the first few penalties were only confirmed half-way round that lap so he hadn't seen a pit board giving him the penalty.

---

All that aside, that was a great ride by Luis Salom - welcome back!

Total votes: 92

The dashboard on his bike would have indicated that he had jumped the start and therefore told him to come in. Sam Lowes said his board lit up by the time he got to the first corner.

Total votes: 90

Not that this is the site that would. But I noticed Marquez kept running a particular corner very wide which a few times I saw Rossi pull up. A little remenicent of Phillip island last year. I'm surprised nothing more was made of it to be honest. Not saying it was anything either way I'm just surprised nothing was mentioned. Maybe if it was later in the year.

Total votes: 106

One of the issues the Honda has is engine braking, just like last year. Cal Crutchlow has been telling reporters all weekend that he has been having engine braking. This means they run wide at certain points.

What was also clear from watching the race is something you also saw really clearly at Aragon last year, when Rossi was going up against Pedrosa. The two bikes take radically different lines (to achieve almost identical lap times!), which means that they will always end up getting in each others way. That was one thing that caused Marquez to crash at Argentina last year, when Marquez put his front wheel where the Honda needed it to be, forgetting that Rossi's Yamaha needed to take different, more sweeping lines, and that he would be coming across the point where Marquez' wheel was.

Total votes: 125

Yes I have noticed it before and am aware the lines in which both manufacturers are known for. It was two am when I watched the race and remembered it being a fair way wide in the same corner. Was wondering if anyone else noticed it. With all the pre race muck they we're using to hype up the race I was just surprised the media didn't jump on it is all.
I knew there was nothing malicious about it.
Cheers for the reply.

Total votes: 90

It was so funny, as they were talking about who jumped the start and who didn't, my first thought was 'WAIT! Didn't they JUST enact a rule that said if you jump the start but stop yourself again and gain no advantage that they wouldn't get penalized???' because it looked like most of the riders (and as David pointed out, except the most egregious offenders!) had stopped themselves and gained no advantage. So did they forget the rule they just made? And like David said, why in the world would the 2 most obvious offenders take the longest to be penalized? Luthi shouldn't have had to battle ANYONE that race! If he got caught up with Morbidelli, even if Morbidelli put in a clean pass that just happen to cause Luthi to crash, then what?

Total votes: 103

It's all explained on MCN. Mike Webb says there was an issue with the stop-start technology that prevented a full review of all bikes in the first few laps. Those they could be sure of they penalised, but a couple slipped through the net. Once they got the system working again properly they penalised the final two riders, but due to the rules the only option available to them was a 20 second penalty.

He also says there was no issue with the lights, so the earlier post about a camera flash probably explains what put the riders off.

Finally, Mike says that the riders who stopped and started again were moving when the red lights went off. This is the key point, if you're going to be given leeway for starting and stopping again you have to be stationary when the lights go out......

http://www.motorcyclenews.com/sport/motogp/qatar-motogp-2016/motogp-race...

Total votes: 87

Three people watching 30+ riders for infractions is not enough. Race Direction looked like incompetent buffoons during the Moto2 race. My partner spotted Morbidelli's jump start imediately but RD couldn't see it without a computer to help them? When they announced Morbidelli and Cortese under investigation I said that was contrary to the rules, rules which RD themselves don't seem to know. And now they offer lame excuses, did the dog eat his homework too?

MotoGP is rapidly becoming a farce. The man in charge is guilty of tax evasion. Teams, riders and even Race Direction don't know the rules. The lunatics are running the asylum.

Total votes: 88

Maybe. But 2015 was one of the best years for the Premire class and 2016 looks to be the same. Moto2 looks like it may be a dogfight this year and Moto3 is..well...Moto3. So for me. The loonies can keep on running the asylum. Hehe

Total votes: 98

I'm assuming this might be Nick Harris's last season since Steve Day worked the moto3 and moto2 feeds? I didn't care for Steve Day too much in wbsk, but he did a fair job of the other GP races. Old Nick must have worked a nice deal to take it easier this last year.

Total votes: 90

Here in the US, I was able to watch more of the practice sessions live due to the evening scheduled in Qatar. That was a fantastic treat. Listening to the MotoGP.com announcers call Vinales "the hottest property in MotoGP" every single time he was on screen grew a bit tiresome, but as the race showed we are all hoping to see a fresh face at the front of the pack in the last five laps. It is for a healthy series in the long term.

I also loved the interview of Herve Poncharal about the silly season rumors of Bradley Smith that he vehemently denied only to have the KTM contract announced not 24 hours later. With Rossi signing his two year deal, Jorge has to be intrigued by the GP16 as it powered past him in the early laps. I imagine that Jorge is dreaming of defending his title successfully this year on the Yamaha and then winning on the resurrected Ducati in 2017. That would be the ultimate way to silence his detractors.

Moto3 is just a pure joy to watch. I can only imagine the feeling of leading that pack of 25 riders and the heart rate that it creates! It was very interesting to see Fenati double draft and slingshot his way to the front only to push wide at turn 1 several times. Did that 6th gear change in the transmission really help that much?

Moto2 was a head scratcher as to the penalties. I'm just glad Luthi won it by crossing the line first and didn't get tangled up with Morbidelli.

Total votes: 85

David, looking forward to the next installment of PPP( I can't say it either).

What are the rumors that you're hearing about a possible Stoner ride in that seat. And do you think Gigi will put a works bike with Pramac fairings under him if he does?

Total votes: 91

Casey reportedly said that there is no truth to the rumors. Maybe that's the same when he said he wasn't retiring. Lol. Fingers crossed.

Total votes: 100

Edwards was quoted saying that Stoner had chatted w him about considering the replacement ride for Petrucci. Lets get comfortable w Stoner wanting to not be pestered by journos, he is going to do a wildcard or replacement right after he announces it. Had he done his test the other day...?

Total votes: 94

But someone is a Stoner hater. LMAO at them giving 1 star votes to a question that the entire GP paddock was/is wondering. Keep on hating there buddy, be glad you got to see him ride(at least I hope you did).

Total votes: 87

And for good reason, the 4 aliens are the 4 consistently best riders. Its not Honda's money or their manipulation of the rules that keeps the status quo the same, its the skill of the top 4 riders. If any of the aliens were on a Duc they would have scored a win. Seems to me that Lorenzo has a choice ahead of him instead of just using the Duc offer as leverage on Yamaha. Iannone may make a dent in the admission door soon but he is learning, like Maverick is, that turning a fast lap is not the same as winning a race. That goes double for all the hype given to the Ducati satellite riders (Redding) that had nothing to do but get used to a year old bike that had plenty of existing data, unlike the factory guys that were testing new parts and bikes all of preseason.

Chris

Total votes: 102

As a VR fan I was disappointed and worried about this strange start: was it the wrong choice of tyre or something else? He had such an erratic pace....What I don't understand is the Ducati strategy the 2 Andreas could have just pulled away and build a serious gap before fighting for the win. I wonder if all the attention to Stoner and the rumors of Lorenzo signing are taking their toll on both. That seemed more like a contest between who is the alpha rider in the garage rather than a smart race with focus on winning. Shame. JL was perfect. But I found a bit vulgar his f**k you gesture soon after the flag and then at VR face during the cool down lap. I can understand the frustration but it's low. If VR can find some competitiveness i think Jarvis will need more than a few martinis to keep the peace in the garage

Total votes: 120

1) he has been doing it for years
2) more like tiger woods sinking a putt

Did like the zip it gesture

Total votes: 91

They would have got rid of this ability of the ecu to be tuned for each corner.

It's not the first or last time a bike (CC35 this time) getting 'lost' has ruined someone's race

It holds no relevance to real world riding.

Total votes: 97

I feel the same about the wings. Hold zero real world functionality that I can see. Maybe someone else sees some. I would like to know.

The ECU being able to be tuned for particular corners and active TC where it's adjusting based on the amount of calculated grip left from the rear; does hold real world advantages to me. Touring bikes would be my first thought where you may be in different conditions each time you ride. The fact that computers and sensors are getting better at being able to sense how much grip is there, is a big step. Think the D-Air system in Dainese suits. Lots of years spent in development and now we finally have them a alike to us mortals that also like to ride. But the way it can tell if it needs to deploy is nothing short of amazing.

Total votes: 89

>I feel the same about the wings. Hold zero real world functionality that I can see. Maybe someone else sees some. I would like to know.<

I'm not a fan of the wings either… but understand, MotoGP is pure prototype racing… and although there is technology transfer down to production bikes, there are no direct ties between the two. The sole purpose of a MotoGP bike is to go around the track as fast and quickly as possible… not to be relevant to a street bike… Think F1 car relationship to street cars… or lack there of…

Total votes: 99

I don't want to get into a huge technical discussion about GP/F1 and how it relates to real world bikes.

So I'll just say. Ban the wings because they are ugly as sin. I like the Duc, but those wings look like $h!t. LOL

Total votes: 89

Active TC is all well and good (if you like that sort of thing) but MotoGP TC is a whole different beast that has no application in the real world. MotoGP relies on a very specific set of MANUAL measurements made at every single corner of a race track: camber, surface texture, surface temperature, radius etc. This data simply isn't available to real world ECU's, and more to the point it is constantly changing unlike a race track. We ride on roads that are being constantly upgraded, re-profiled, resurfaced, reconfigured re-everythinged that make corner by corner mapping impossible away from the controlleded confines of a race track. The statement you make about "different conditions each time you ride" is the polar opposite of MotoGP TC which is completely reliant on conditions being exactly as previously measured.

I get that the manufacturers are looking for everything to help them go faster and find an edge over their competition but when I hear statements like "My bike forgot where it's at" as we've heard several times, it just grinds my gears. I fully understand now why Elvis shot that damn TV....

Total votes: 95

"Cal Crutchlow felt he could have been with Pedrosa, but a problem with the timing loop sensor meant that the bike got lost on the track, could not recalibrate itself, and had traction control and engine braking settings kicking in at the wrong point on the circuit."

I, too, can see no real-world transferability for ECU calibration to a meticulously mapped racetrack. I'd like to see that sort of thing done away with, so that the riders have to actually, you know, RIDE to bikes.

Total votes: 102

MotoGP doesn't allow GPS, all turn by turn mapping is done using timing loops and lean and inertia to recognise where it is. This is probably why the bikes get 'lost' so frequently.

By banning GPS, they've allowed the same idea to be implemented (turn by turn) but made it more expensive and prone to failure. This is a classic example of unforeseen consequences. The same thing happened with the ban on dual clutches - the manufacturers each spent millions of dollars building complex seamless gearboxes to get around the rules.

By banning certain technology they're actually making factories spend more money. The factory will still figure out how to reach the end result, but they'll have to build a completely new technology to achieve it.

I see no real world application for carbon brakes, pneumatic valves, tyres that only last 100km, and bikes that need to a separate piece of equipment to be started, but we don't complain that those are all used in motogp.

Total votes: 83

These are starting to appear in automotive world. The Rolls-Royce Wraith uses its GPS to pick the correct gear for approaching corners.

Total votes: 91

I have been solidly w Tremur on the turn-by-turn electronics. It has a qualitatively different function and means than what the electronics did previously and crossed a good line in rule limits.

Re winglets jury is still out. Don't forget that Kawasaki just put out this thing a bit ago to lots of interest (besides mine, the Hayabusa genre is Zzzzz). Slide down to the 5th photo.

http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/bikes/kawasaki-ninja-h2r-leaked-photos/

Dovisioso didn't owe anything to Iannone, but both of them could have been wiser. Gigi looked REALLY pleased at the end of the race, he sees possible becoming probable. A win looks inevitable. Congrats to Dovi for getting up to speed so well, he and his garage got the business done. If DOVI can do that pace, what could Jorge do on that bike? But does the Ducati even operate with a Spaniard aboard? Can you imagine Lorenzo in their garage?!

Enjoyed seeing rear tires spinning and smoking for both Vale and Marquez. Haven't seen that for a while. When Marc started getting looser I began to anticipate more folks move around more. Nope.

Total votes: 92

The Moto2 race was good but seemed to have some unneeded drama with the late call on Morbidelli. Had me yelling half the race as the showed replays of the start. How they immediately called Lowes, (who in my opinion did nothing illegal), but not Morbidelli who rode a country mile comparedB to Lowes before the lights. Good race until the end, but the calls seemed a little sloppy.

I am going to say it again. Lorenzo should start flying a pirate flag for his dark dominance that he displays. Go ahead and be the villain. The man was in another league compared. It looked like Iannone may have given him more fits than Dovi if he would have stayed. The way he got off that last corner seemed to be a little better than Dovi. He flew down that straight like a rocket ship. I thought of the chorus to 'Rocket Man' when he passed Lorenzo like he sitting still. But, Iannone made his own mistake and crashed out. Marquez looked strong yet reserved. He is growing in wisdom. Rossi just flat did not have the speed. He seemed equal on braking into the corner. But from the middle of the corner to the exit he looked visually slower than the front 3. I feel for Vinales. His times seemed to show he would be closer. 6th is not so bad though. All and all, it was a very entertaining weekend.

Total votes: 98

Never liked them. Primarily because once you've given a ride through theres now way an appeal can ever make a difference, just like an appeal being successful after the condemned prisoner has been hanged two hours before.

Ride throughs were debated heavily after Le Mans 2011, my opinion was against them long before Simoncelli rocked onto the world stage though.

Only fair penalty is a time penalty, that way if the offender is later proved innocent or an appeal accepted retrospective action can give the rider / team / sponsors the place back.

Mind you the downside is the follow on counter appeal from some other team, then the counter counter appeal and the eventual slide into the Court of Arbitration for Sport keeping lawyers employed all through the off season.

Stuff it, changed my mind, hang 'em all! :)

Total votes: 83

Because the rider who knows he has a penalty likely to be handed out can ride in a different way, and those racing against the ones who are likely to be penalised also ride differently. Imagine if Luthi had hung back in P2 because his team told him Morbidelli had a penalty, only for it to be overturned later? And not so much in this instance since they were way out front, but a penalised rider can also (surreptitiously) do things to compromise a competitor's race since he is out of it anyway.
The other thing is this "no advantage" rule. A really cunning operator with some guile (I'm thinking yellow here) could deliberately jump early, stop, and still make a stationary start and not be penalised, meanwhile having initiated another rider to unintentionally jump the start more severely and cop a penalty.
It's a new can of worms they've created for themselves. The old rule worked fine, if you moved before the light went out you were screwed, end of.
Like others I'm amazed at how long it took to penalise the last 2 riders, the unfairness of the penalty relative to the others, and how it could even be legal. Not a great example of the new race control guys in action.

On the positive we had three exciting races in different ways and I'm so glad the season is back underway! :)

Total votes: 86

Imagine if a proper-starter dices with a jumper and is taken out or run wide. The start-jumper should never have been where he was on track to begin with, and his presence there changes the race for everyone around him. (And perhaps those behind, who may then push harder for points or a podium spot.)

Total votes: 93

If Lorenzo is going to Ducati he probably can't/won't announce it until he either has a very clear lead in the championship or is so far back that he knows he can't defend his crown.

If he is in front then Yamaha also gain an advantage by continuing to support him for the rest of the season and if he is way behind then no one gets upset if they don't give him upgrades etc.

Even Rossi got the latter treatment and it seemed to have been deemed reasonable given his championship position at the time. I also seem to remember Rossi didn't whine and bleat about it every time he was near a microphone.

I suspect management of the Yamaha and Ducati camps would become quite difficult if an announcement was made at this early stage.

Total votes: 98

I understand the need to "talk things up" but I'm findind a real lack of realism with some of the professional and not so professional commentary.

For example the supposed "next alien" status of Vinales and Suzuki has just been ridiculous. Any student of the sport who has followed testing for the last 10 years would know that this is what Suzuki do: set blistering laps in testing (isolation) and fail to deliver in the heat of competition. We have seen it time and time again yet the pro's would have us believe that this time is different. Reality is writ large in the past.

Sorry David, your writing is sublime for the most part......but I found this report a tad unreastic. From your description of the race you'd think Lorenzo had won by 20 seconds, not 2. As much as Dovi and Marquez couldn't quite challenge Lorenzo when needed most Lorenzo was also struggling to break clear until the very closing stages. Everyone has differing perspectives but if Lorenzo was doing it easy he would have taken great pleasure in smashing VR and MM in particular.......but 2 seconds is no smashing. It's a solid win, nothing more.

Sorry, no offence intended ust keepin' it real.

Total votes: 98

Lorenzo smashed the lap record near the end of the race. I don't care for him much as a person, but it's clear to me that he was very smart this race. The new tires are still a little unknown under race conditions, so playing it safe then pushing hard at the end was a good strategy. The thing is 20 people can watch the exact same thing and all have a different opinion. So maybe I'm wrong.

Total votes: 96

I believe Rossi was the only one of the top 4 to NOT run any winglets. Perhaps he should have?

I know he does't like the way they look, and has been ambivalent about them in testing. But perhaps they give a small advantage in antiwheelie or braking

Total votes: 101