2016 Argentina Sunday Round Up: Controlled Chaos, and Blaming Ducati For It

If you had to sum up this weekend's racing in Argentina in a single word, it would have to be "eventful". The Termas de Rio Honda round has more twists and turns than a mountain trail, and just as many dangers lurking round every corner. On Friday, the riders found a track still dusty, dirty and green from disuse, causing slow lap times and a fair few falls. On Saturday, as the track cleaned and speeds increased, the rear Michelin of Scott Redding's Pramac Ducati delaminated, throwing the schedule into chaos. Rain on Sunday added even more complications, the plan for the MotoGP race changing hour by hour, as Michelin, Race Direction and the teams all tried to figure out how best to proceed.

Sunday felt chaotic, and it was chaotic, but by the end of Sunday, it was almost entirely forgotten. In Moto3, rookie Khairul Idham Pawi took the first ever Grand Prix win for a Malaysian rider in a style that made Danny Kent's wins from 2015 look positively pedestrian. In Moto2, there was a tough and close battle among the title favorites, with reigning champion Johann Zarco taking victory in very convincing fashion in the final laps. And crowning the weekend, a fascinating MotoGP race, shortened and spiced up with a compulsory pit stop, with a heavy dose of incident and drama added in for good measure. The chaos of the morning was all but forgotten in the excitement of three fantastic races.

Captain Chaos

The chaos needs addressing however. The constant stream of emails announcing yet more changes to the schedule for the MotoGP class made the whole event look like amateur hour. The first announcement had come on Saturday night, when Michelin and Race Control announced that both rear slick tires were to be withdrawn after what happened to Redding's rear tire. Instead, the emergency tire (a third option, which Michelin are forced to bring to every race as part of the deal to be official tire supplier) would be used, and the teams would be given an extra session of warm up to find a set up with the tire. The emergency or safety tire used a different construction to the medium and hard Michelin had initially put in the tire allocation, meaning the set up work done on Friday and Saturday was of limited use.

Of course, you can't work on the set up for a slick tire when it's raining, so the extra session of practice on Sunday was canceled, though the option for a replacement session should the track dry out ahead of the race was also kept open. As the weather started to stabilize, and it became clear that the race would be run in dry conditions but cool temperatures, on a track still littered with damp patches, Race Direction formulated a new plan. Or rather, three or four new plans, each one refining the previous version. They all came down to a 20-lap race, with a compulsory pit stop between the end of lap 9 and the end of lap 11, including various scenarios for the weather: wet to dry, dry to wet, the race being red-flagged before lap 13, after lap 13, and more.

In the end, of course, only one of these scenarios was needed, or indeed, even likely to be needed. But Race Direction were trying desperately to cover every conceivable sequence of events, so that the teams knew what to expect when they lined up on the grid. The trouble is, every time they devised a race format, someone would point out the freak set of circumstances they had failed to cover, and so they would have to revise the scenario to explicitly account for that. Email followed email, and the impression that it gave was one of disarray and disorder, of an organization making it up as they went along.

The court of public opinion speaks

Which they were. And which they had to do. The rule change adopted at Phillip Island in 2013 allowed them to do exactly that, change rules and schedules to cope with unexpected situations which threaten safety. Tires which could not be relied on to last an entire race, and uncooperative weather meant constant changes of plan were needed. Unfortunately for Race Direction, in this age of instant communication, email, and Social Media, they had to do it in public, facing criticism at every turn.

There is nothing Twitter loves more than self-righteous outrage and indignation, and Twitter users seized the opportunity to pontificate at great length, and with a cornucopia of exclamation marks. If this had happened twenty years ago, the entire process would have gone entirely unnoticed by the public, left as only a footnote in magazine reports. But the time of quiet reflection and behind-the-scenes management are gone. In 2016, series organizers must work in glass houses, their every more scrutinized more than Big Brother ever hoped would be possible.

That does not excuse the situation, of course. After Phillip Island 2013, a basic contingency plan should have been drawn up covering the most obvious scenarios, including various combinations of weather. That was all too obviously missing, as the constant stream of clarifications to the procedures made clear. While the openness of Race Direction is to be praised, having a basic plan in place would have left them with a lot less work to do.

Are you not entertained?

Of course, once the red lights went out, the soapboxes all quickly disappeared back under couches around the world, and all eyes turned to the action on track. The flag-to-flag race with compulsory pit stops provided plenty of spectacle, but more than that, the condition of the track shook the field up more than expected. The rain had made the track treacherous again, damp patches on the track catching many an unwary rider out, and the dirt off line making passing a tricky affair.

There are those who thrive in such conditions, and those who suffer. Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi manage changing grip and inconsistent surfaces well, as do the Ducatis. Jorge Lorenzo, however, tends to struggle, and Sunday was no different. The reigning world champion lost ground at the start, then started going slower and slower, dropping ever further behind the leaders. At the start of lap 6, things went from bad to worse, Lorenzo falling at Turn 1, a place where many riders met their fate.

Is Lorenzo incapable of dealing with poor conditions? Is he still spooked after his crash at Assen, back in 2013? Not quite: last year, I spoke to his team manager Wilco Zeelenberg about this, and he said that Lorenzo is happy in both wet and dry, a fact his record reflects. His ability to exploit the available grip is unparalleled, but it is simultaneously his weakness. When grip varies, becomes unpredictable, it gets harder for Lorenzo to judge that grip perfectly in every corner. On Sunday, he put it down to losing his focus. That focus is a prerequisite to understanding grip. Without it, Lorenzo ends in the gravel. And Turn 1 in Argentina required utmost concentration, a bump in the middle and wet patches either side of the perfect line setting a trap for the unwary. Lorenzo paid the price.

First and second bikes

The lack of Lorenzo left a fascinating duel at the front. Before the pit stops, Valentino Rossi pressed hard at Marc Márquez, the two battling hard but cleanly, despite their mutual antipathy. After the pit stop, the tables turned, and Márquez easily opened a gap to Rossi. How that happened is visible in the lap times: Márquez gained about a second in the pits, his bunny hop from bike to bike a fraction quicker than Rossi's more conventional bike swap technique ("I'm too old to jump," he joked later in the press conference). But the amount Márquez was gaining out on track was much bigger. The Repsol Honda rider reeled off a string of 1'40s, while Rossi found himself stuck in the 1'41s. Before the pit stop, the lead was fiercely contested. After the pit stop, Márquez had the race in the bag.

What changed? The bikes changed, and even though both machines are supposed to be identical – the teams take meticulous care to ensure the set up is exactly the same on both the first and second bikes – there are sometimes tiny differences which end up having a massive effect. Marc Márquez had a great feeling with his second bike, and was quicker than with his first, while Rossi had exactly the opposite. He never really felt comfortable on the second machine, and had to let Márquez go.

In the press conference, he was very cagey about the possible causes, though afterwards, speaking to the Italian press, he was a little more open. "I don't know the reason," he said. "Maybe I didn't heat the rear tire enough, or maybe the tires weren't identical." The opposite had happened at Phillip Island in 2013, where his first bike felt a lot worse than his second bike.

Dastardly Ducatis

Whatever the cause, Rossi's problems with his second bike saw him fall back into the clutches of the Ducatis and Maverick Viñales. The Suzuki man had led the chase, mostly managing to keep the fierce speed of the Andreas Iannone and Dovizioso at bay. He caught Rossi, then set about harrying the Italian. Eventually, the thought of his first MotoGP podium got the better of him, and he crashed out at Turn 1, like so many others.

That left Rossi with only the Ducatis to deal with, but they would prove too much for him. The way the two factory Ducatis would get past foreshadowed what was to come, Andrea Iannone making a risky and overly ambitious attempt up the inside of Rossi, pushing them both wide and allowing Dovizioso underneath. Rossi knew he was defeated, incapable of getting back past the factory Ducatis. He followed, and watched the battle play out in front of him

It played out badly. In the penultimate corner, with Dovizioso leading, Andrea Iannone made one last desperate lunge. It was way too ambitious again, and Iannone lost the front, taking out Dovizioso in the process. Instead of having two Ducatis on the podium the Italian factory was left empty-handed.

The usual suspect

Afterwards, nobody was surprised that it had happened. "I didn’t know if it was Valentino or Iannone behind me, but when I felt the touch I knew it was Iannone," Dovizioso explained afterwards. "Aand when I was sliding I realized I expected something like that to happen" Rossi also had harsh words for his friend, saying that he felt the pass on him had been too dangerous, and they were lucky to both stay upright.

Iannone has form for this sort of thing in the past, but on Sunday, the Italian was at his worst. In the first corner, he slammed up the inside of Marc Márquez, forcing Márquez and especially Dani Pedrosa wide, costing Pedrosa a lot of places. Iannone was very aggressive with Rossi getting past, so when he took his teammate out, it had an air of inevitability. This was always going to happen, especially when Iannone is in the mood he is in.

Is some nervousness creeping into the Ducati garage? Possibly. The reports that Ducati have either already signed Lorenzo, or very close to signing him, will not have been missed by the two Ducati riders. They both know that if they wish to keep their rides, they will have to beat their teammate. That may explain the lengths to which Iannone was prepared to go. Ducati bosses Paolo Ciabatti and Gigi Dall'Igna had little sympathy for Iannone, saying he should not have taken such a big risk and taking two Ducatis out of a certain podium. But they both denied that the contract situation had much to do with it.

The move was costly in another way. Iannone was punished for the incident with a single penalty point and being docked three places on the grid at Austin. The Texan track could be Ducati's best hope of a win this season, and Iannone has made his job a good deal more difficult.

Are the Ducatis to blame for tire problems?

The Ducati disaster put Valentino Rossi right back on the podium (which he shared with Marc Márquez in a very frosty atmosphere), along with Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa called it "the luckiest race of my life," but Rossi was less inclined to put it down to luck. Yes, the podium would not have been possible without the Ducatis crashing ahead of him, Rossi said. But if the Ducatis hadn't had the tire issue on Saturday, this would have been a normal race over 25 laps, and he was more than prepared for that. "Sincerely during the weekend with the Yamaha we never have the problem with the tyres. So for the problem of another bike we have to change everything when we don’t suffer," Rossi said.

He was not the only rider to point the finger of blame at the Ducatis. The Tech 3 riders were withering in the criticism of the decision to run a flag-to-flag race because of the problems for Ducati. "The circumstances of today’s race were too biased to one manufacturer that seemed to have problems," Bradley Smith said. "That’s what I believe why the other manufacturers need to fight against the tire company, because to take away our strength of being strong at the end of races and basically hand the perfect scenario to the red bikes is hard to deal with."

Pol Espargaro was similarly unhappy. Talking to Catalan radio, he was dismissive of the entire situation. "The race was made like this because of Ducati," he said. "We keep saying that Michelin has many problems, but the riders with problems were the Ducatis. They have 17 km/h more top speed than us, and they are using up their tires. If Ducati can't use these tires, then maybe they should turn down the power. Or maybe produce tires especially for them."

Speaking to GPOne.com, rider manager Carlo Pernat put it down to the combination of new tires and new electronics. The tires, Pernat said, had been developed with the factory electronics, the spec electronics only being available from the Valencia test. The spec electronics can do a lot less to save the tire, and so that was the likely cause of the problems. There is some validity to that point of view.

All to play for

The many crashes made for a big shake up down the field, with some outstanding rides producing strong results. Eugene Laverty used a combination of wile and skill to bag fourth behind Dani Pedrosa, the Irishman starting to get a real handle on his Aspar Ducati. He beat Hector Barbera squarely back into fifth, after Pol Espargaro ran wide and finished fifth. There were only thirteen finishers, among them a brave and intelligent Andrea Dovizioso. Despite not being able to restart his bike, he pushed it all the way to the finish, crossing the line to take thirteenth place, and three important points. His commitment was not to be faulted, and that may end up being what saves his job later this year.

Those three points were also a source of frustration for Dovizioso. If he hadn't been taken out by Iannone, he would have gained another 20 points, putting him just a single point behind championship leader Marc Márquez. As it is, he is now 18 points down, and with a lot more work to do. Jorge Lorenzo is 16 points behind Marc Márquez, and 8 points behind his teammate Valentino Rossi. It is way too early to be calling the 2016 championship, but this race will have an effect down the road. This was an important weekend, in more ways than one.


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Total votes: 140
Total votes: 194

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Comments

I have been watching racing all day. The Moto2 to Motogp had me screaming out in surprise for over 2 hours. Great day and great report David. I could say a lot of coulda wouldas about this race, but it all seemed to turn out right to me. Edge of seat racing!

Total votes: 137

In dicey weather or track conditions it's always a dice roll.  These riders and teams are literally all gambling the whole time and someone always craps out.  Very mixed emotions about the day.  Marquez rode brilliantly as did any that kept it upright.  Others riders who should know better crashed, and yet some more crashed two races in a row and are a problem.  

Marquez is the big winner out of this and Jorge the biggest loser.  Now they are heading to a track where Marc will most likely extend his championship lead some more.  He owns COTA.  

Total votes: 128

"WTF?!"

Marco Melandri, Donington Park, 2012

 

Total votes: 128

was watching f1 before moto2 race, if you think motogp's race direction was ridiculous, you're going to love the farce that is f1.

Total votes: 133

1. This is an awesome track. 

2.  Iononne is a bonehead, only because he took down his teammate and a sure podium. But this is a big duh...

3. As a big Rossi fan, I really wish he'd apologize to Marc. He's got to be a bigger man than this, not even looking at Mark during the press conference, while Marc looked at him every time he spoke. I feel it would make watching the races more fun, for everyone. Who cares who's right or wrong, let's just end this bulls$&t.

4. Ok, one more; really enjoyed all three races, and WSB AND SSP!

Total votes: 230

Re your point 3 - "Rossi's got to be a bigger man than this".

Agree.  I thought his behaviour in pit lane and the post-event press conference was not worthy of a man who had always been a champion off the track as well as on it."

Total votes: 124

It is a "spec" tyre after all. 

Is it really up to Michelin to deal with the enormous power of the Ducati? If they do so, aren't they giving Ducati an unfair advantage in the name of safety, the spec tyre becoming the tyre most suited for the most powerful bike on the grid? 

Isn't it up to Ducati to tune up traction control or tune down torque to conserve the tyres, especially for the taller/heavier riders like Redding/Baz and probably Petrucci? 

I guess it's a bit early to tell before Michelin has analyzed Redding's tyre (on French TV they said we'll know more around Jerez) but if we remove Iannone's last corner dive, there would have been 4 Dukes in the top 10, maybe even 5 if Baz had not forfeited due to technical problems on his second bike. 

Total votes: 152

So, you 're suggesting that instead of developping a tyre to last a moto gp race, the governing body should issue a torque cap (or an HP cap) on a prototype series? Am i the only one thinking that is totally ridiculous?

Since when, having more HP in prototype motorsports is unfair???

Michelin is expected to deliver tyres that any of these bikes can use for a full race distance. If they can't, then they either return to their labs ot quit. 

Total votes: 149

I'm not saying having more HP is unfair, far from it. 

I'm just saying that if spec tyres become custom Ducati tyres, there could be a tyre advantage on top of the HP advantage. 

That being said, I think we can all agree the tyes should in no circumstances explode, irrespective of the power of the machine and weight of the pilot.  

Total votes: 120

Someone with better knowledge than me could probably chime in, but I think that brief period from roughly 1949 -2005 it was the team and riders' responsibility to manage their tyres.  It's really only been the last ten years that tyres could be expected to perform near their peak for an entire race.

Total votes: 133

So Ducati get pilloried for bringing a gun to a knife fight, ha ha too funny

Total votes: 115

You want to blame Ducati for having too much power in a race series? Get real.

Total votes: 147

I think we may be all on the same page here.   If Michelin builds a tire that supports all bikes, Ducati's included, and everyone gets proper test time on them, then so be it.   But, for this past weekend, to have punished ~75% of the field and effectively tilted the race to the Ducati's for a problem unique to the Ducati's, well that's what some are taking issue with.    Now, this coming round, in Austin, I am assuming that they are going with the "safety tire".  If so, no complaints from me because all manufacturers will get to test F-S-Su with it.    It was the last minute change that, along with the pit-stop requirement basically favored the Ducati's.    That's it - that's all I had a problem with.    If they build a tire that supports all that horsepower and all factories get to test in advance, then that is fair and kudos to Ducati for building such a machine.

Total votes: 130

It was a level playing field for all, Ducati were no less disadvantaged than the rest with the forced change at the last minute

Total votes: 117

They can have as much power as they want, but they have to work with the tyres which are allocated by the sole, spec, tyre provider.

For a few years the Yamaha was only just (or sometimes not) making it to the the end of the race on the allocated fuel, but a pit stop was never introduced so they could swap to bikes with full tanks again.

Total votes: 118

is that tires going off toward the end of a race is entirely normal and expected. Catastrophic delaminating and exploding is a safety issue, not a tire-management issue. Who's to say Jack Miller's tire wouldn't have blown after he'd been sliding his Honda's rear for 20-25 dry-race laps?

Race Direction and Michelin had to deal with an actual (not merely theoretical) safety concern. While only Ducati had experienced a dangerous delamination/explosion, there was no guarantee that the problem would limit itself solely to Ducatis, regardless of rider, riding style, track temperature, ambient temperature, ...

Total votes: 117

Stop blaming Ducati for the tire issues. The manufacturers are supposed to bring out the meanest fastest bikes. The tire manufacturer is responsible to provide tires that work for each and every bike.
Or are you going to say that Aprilia will have the right to complain about tires too and forcing Michelin to make tires for their bikes and let everyone else drop their power advantages? It is utterly wrong to think like that. 

Of course Tech3 and other teams will complain, they're just jealous of the power they have at Ducati.
Before the year started, it was known that there were less electronics so Michelin should've known that tires would be spinning more and tire temperatures would go up.
It's all Michelin's fault for the tire problems this weekend, nobody else's! But that being said, they just took the safe course and not take any risk when it comes to rider safety. The blown tire was probably just a dud. Many other Ducs have done laps with the same tires and same HP and same tire spinning without any problem. And if after all there appears to be a problem with the tires, they'll just have to change ALL the tires at Michelin because ANY rider should be able to safely complete race distance on ANY tire, even the softest of them all.

Total votes: 115

"Is it really up to Michelin to deal with the enormous power of the Ducati? If they do so, aren't they giving Ducati an unfair advantage in the name of safety, the spec tyre becoming the tyre most suited for the most powerful bike on the grid? "

I'm not sure what "unfair advantage" Ducati would have been granted had the safety tire been used.   Is it an "advantage" to be able to finish the race safely?  Without the possibility of a tire exploding underneath you?  Ducati had the same amount of experience with the safety tire as everyone else: zero.  There's no evidence Ducati would have been better off with the safety tire; indeed, it may have performed worse for them.  Since no one ever tested it's impossible to know.  It is not possible to know if the safety tire would be most suited to the Ducati.

Yes, it is Michelin's responsibility to deal with the power of the Ducati, and all the bikes on the grid.  You (and the GP riders who complain) are also making a big assumption that the power of the bike was the cause.  There's no evidence of that.  It could have simply been a bad tire.  And think about this: what does Ducati's "enormous" power advantage actually amount to?  Maybe a 5% boost?  Surely no more than that.  That means the other manufacturers are close enough to the edge of that tire's performance as well that they could experience a failure too.

If Ducati had that much of a power advantage that they were blowing tires then they would be winning races without alien-level talent.

Total votes: 121

"Are you not entertained?"  Indeed...

I most certainly was right up to the point of the mandatory pit stop. I feel it tiresome and agrivating to state the obvious. That that was shaping up to be an epic race ala Catalunya 2009 until it wasn't. You could see it in Rossi's body language as he trailed Marquez that this was going to come down to a fight and I'm sure we were all on the edge of our seats as the two gladiators had at it.

and then came the pitstops...

The first thing I thought of was "yup, Michelin, just like what happened back at Laguna Seca in 2008/09" when the brought the wrong tires and they had to run cut slicks in the dry. The ever changing rules from Race Direction not withstanding, I really have to ask is this amateur hour?

I understand and appreciate the challenge of building tires to accomodate +250hp bikes. However having said that Michelin are a multi-billion dollar company who employ world leading engineers, chemists, physicists and a whole host of other PhD level specialists who one task is to build world leading rubber and today that company failled.

Figure it out guys and please don't let that happen again.

Total votes: 159

I see that the Termas de Rio Hondo curcuit has been confirmed for a further 3 years and presumably the finacial renumeration to the circuit is significant (certainly acceptable to the business that runs the circuit). So what services and facilities do TRH provide to the Moto GP circus for thier dosh? Pit boxes, parking, toiltes, power supplies, hospitality areas and some catering plus of course facilities for the fans (who are of course charged seperately).

What else do they provide, ah yes a race circuit suitable in every way for for one of the most presigious motor sport events in the world today. I keep reading that the circuit was very, very dirty due to 'lack of use' - a key term here (the word 'green' was used more than once) and dangerous due to totally unpredictable levels of grip. This unpredictability remaining to the end of the event, witnessed by so many fallers, including many of the leading riders.

Surely as part of the finacial compensation for running the event the business 'have to' provide a suitable track surface for a Moto GP event? If it needed cleaning why didn't they try to clean it - maybe Im missing something and perhaps this isnt actually possible (I dont really believe this), but surely another event (car or bike) held prior to the Moto GP might have helped get the surface closer to being acceptable? At the end of the day that is all that they provide -  a race track.

In the end it was the tyre issues that caused the biggest upset (if we ignore Iannone for now) but any of the falls during the track cleaning processes utlised (normally known as practice and qualifying) could have caused injury and taken out one or more or more of the leading riders influencing the rest of the season and potentially the world championship. Id be very, very pissed off if this had happened because Termas de Rio Honda Ltd. are unable to manage the provision of an acceptable track surface for racing.

 

 

Total votes: 158

From my sofa and my ignorance, I do not see how cleaning a track is that hard. Even if specialised blowers would not exist, you could easily arrange a full week of free track events or amateur supporitng races. Worse case scenario, pay to get 20 bikes and 20 riders to lap and lap and lap.

Total votes: 145

The week prior to the race, they should rent enough Zamboni's to cover the width of the track & clean it. They can even spice it up by having them drag racesmiley  

Total votes: 125

My understanding is it's an issue with the location of the circuit, it's incredibly remote. So I don't know if it's as simple as just holding track days then hoards of riders will show up. With that being said, I don't know why the circuit, and every circuit, isn't required to have a street-sweeper on-hand to clean the track. Losail also has issues with lack of use and sand covering the track as well. 

Total votes: 121

I feel the same. In hockey, they have Zambonis' to clean the ice.. 

Forget the blowers. Use a simply spinning brush and a vacuum. Blowers can 'redistribute' the dirt.. a proper machine with a vacuum removes it..

I can think of a handful of viable/simple designs off the top of my head.. I'm sure some of those smart engineering types with superiour sofas can do much better

Total votes: 116

The free track days would be nice, but considering where it is and the country I doubt there are a lot of car or motorcycle guys around that would put down significant enough rubber.  The easier thing to do is contract some retired semi pro racers to ride the track for the week previous on superbikes.  It wouldn't even have to be the latest superbikes.  That combined with cleaning equipement should have the track in order really.

Total votes: 115

I totally agree about the free track days.  It needn't even be a dedicated race, just as long as the cars are scrutinised and insurances are covered, they could let people out for a drift day - at least then you know there'd be plenty of rubber and not just on the optimum racing line.

Total votes: 127

1. Marc & crew seems to have figured out the way to make that Honda work.
 
2. From the post-podium interview with Gavin, Marc seems to have a clear conscience and no guilt or even slightest animosity towards VR. MM being a bigger man.
 
3. Maverick just might get even better offer after that display of talent. I wonder if his phone has stopped ringing?  
 
"cornucopia" God! Where do you even find such words David? I love your race sum-up but wouldn't it be easier for us lot if you'd simply use the word 'plenty of'.

 

Total votes: 149

It's precisely for words like these that we enjoy it even more! Come on how many website can sport on the same page very precise words and literature references (not later than yesterday Burroughs ant Naked Lunch....in a post ) !
Please David don't stop!
On a different note, point 2 on your post....I wouldn't read too much on clear consciences....it was a basic press conference. It's obvious that VR has chosen to ignore MM. He did applaude on the podium and leaves it at that. From the body language I would say that when they are in the same space MM seems slightly more uneasy than VR.
As for the race I deeply regret the change of bikes those first 10 laps werr so promising.... and to see VR overtaking MM not in a real battle mode both rather like poking the bear play a little see if he gets nervous.... one thing: is it just me or when they were entering the pit lane VR almost crashed into MM? Did MM slowed very suddenly just to poke the bear back?

Total votes: 158

" From the body language I would say that when they are in the same space MM seems slightly more uneasy than VR."

VR46 is the one that isn't smiling and trying his hardest not to look in the direction of the other guy.

Total votes: 158

I think the expression is to give the cold shoulder.... and you need to be comfortable with yourself to do that. There is no worse way IMO to just plainly ignore a person to kill the mood and put the ignored person in an awkward situation. As for the happy smiling VR he still comes up with good jokes less of course than the past if he is in the same room with MM and JL. But everywhere else he 's still funny and playing with people.

Total votes: 125

In our personal lives we all have that one friend that still gives cold shoulders to someone else months even years later to the point that it starts getting socially awkward. You know smiling joking then they see the person and they 'Remember to be hurt' and start scowling and crossing their arms, to the point we tell them "get over yourself", because its way more awkward pretending the person that slighted them doesn't exist than dealing with the the issue at hand and moving on from the pain.

Or at least thats what we would tell children?

 

Total votes: 126

Writing would be a hell of a lot less fun if I couldn't use some of my favorite words. Language is a wonderful tool, a toy to be played with. 

Total votes: 175

Termas de Rio Honda? Better correct your autocorrect David :-)

What a MotoGP race!

1. Deserved winner, no doubt. With Austin ahead, I guess we already know the championship leader when we arrive in Europe.

2. Lorenzo proved he's still mortal, and very mortal indeed.

3. I can still hear Iannone's "CAZZO!!!" all the way from Argentina.

4. Bad luck for Vinales, but his podium will come sooner than later.

5. Clean and fair racing between VR and MM. And hey, they applauded each other on the podium! Apparently, VR didn't give MM any look at the press conference, which I think is a pity - then again, MM almost did a Iannone on him to take him out on that same podium :-)

Seems to be another awesome season in the making!

Total votes: 135

Given what happened yesterday I bet my money that Lorenzo will ask to put a clause in his contract if he does move to ducati: NO Iannone.
I think that Ducati starts paying a very high price : they focused too much in trying to bring in Stoner and Lorenzo and forgot to manage the 2 riders who now are fighting to save their seat. It's a shame.

Total votes: 149

The Rossi fanbois that are booing & catcalling other riders on the podium have no place in motorsport. It's ignorant & disrespectful of elite sportsmen who are risking their lives & careers for our entertainment. It's shameful that Rossi declined the opportunity to speak out against this when he was specifically given the chance by journalists at the press conference. He clearly believes nowadays  he's above everyone else & the rules apply differently to him. Having learnt nothing from the debacle at the end of last season, this burgeoning hubris will be his undoing. Such a pity - but compelling to watch, just like some stage tragedy.

Total votes: 247

Rossi did address this prior.  Called it shameful and they are no friends of his or fans of his.  He condemned it

Total votes: 156

I don't like booing, either. But I think the people in the grandstand have a right to express themselves. Let's consider what is perhaps an easy example. In 2004 Aaron Yates kicked another racer, Anthony Fania, after the two had collided on track. Not only did Yates kick Fania, but he did it as Fania was regaining his feet, and while his back was turned. If Yates had received boos on the occasion of his next podium, would the disapproval not be justified?

Riders express themselves, too. On Saturday, when interviewed in parc ferme, Lowes said the Kent "was riding stupid." Last year Lorenzo gave the thumbs-down gesture from the podium, then exited early. Last year Fenati hit the kill switch on Ajo's bike. Etc. Etc.

I agree that riders put their lives on the line, but it's a stretch to say that they do it for us. They do it becuase they love it, because they wouldn't want to do anything else. I'm sure being on the receiving end of boos takes some fun out of it. But everyone has freedom of expression.

I don't always agree with the views expressed, nor with the method of expression. But people are going to say how they feel. And ultimately, I think they have that right.

Total votes: 164

I know we can't fine anyone for it, but can we just agree that all his booing is pathetic hooliganistic behavior? People need to get over themselves.

Total votes: 126

It's the job of the bike manufacturers to make the best bike they can within the spec dictated. It's the job of the tyre manufacturer to provide a tyre capable of handling that power. The bikes then have to be fine tuned to get the best from the tyre...that doesn't mean detuning it to compensate for the tyre's shortcomings. Ducati have done their job... Michelin have come up short.

Total votes: 163

David believes that the soap boxes went under the bed once the red lights went off and the MotoGP race began. Funnily the boxes came out in Argentina especially with Valentino Rossi laying the blame at the door of Ducati. Spec tyres as someone said have to cater to all and rightly pointed out that it is the duty of Michelin to provide tyres for all motorcycles. Valentino Rossi has started believing the the good luck was also his entitlement and that the Ducatis interfered with it and deprived him of a win which otherwise should have been his. My profound thanks to Dani Pedrosa for being honest and saying that neither he nor his bike were anywhere near being winners. 

Total votes: 173

If that race didn't cost Iannone his seat for next seasson I really don't know what will.

In turn 1 he hit and nearly took out Marquez, braking his rear facing cam, and pushed Pedrosa way out of the line to the point that he lost nearly 10 places. Then he dive bombed into Rossi pushing him so wide that Dovi passed both of them and gained like 20 meters advantage. And he ended by taking Dovi out, costing Ducati 36 points.

Can you imagine the rivers of ink that would cover all motogp websites if eitehr Rossi or Marquez behaved like that?

Total votes: 157

Clearly you never want to take your teammate out but doesn't Ducati supposedly have some reservations about Dovi because he doesn't have Iannone's killer instinct? Isn't there rumors that Ducati think Dovi's too passive sometimes and hasn't turned his second places into wins (I believe David wrote about it)? For better, and often times for worse, Iannone's doesn't settle for second. 

Total votes: 129

Last season we saw an Iannone that had reigned in his excesses without losing any confidence or courage. He showed great race craft and bike control. He fought amongst the Aliens. When he went from "Crazy" to "Maniac" he looked to have lost his unpredictable lunges and unwise aggression. He has looked not only the faster of the Ducati pilots, but also one of the few on the Alien potential short list.

At Qatar I had concern that DOVI had taken unwise risk in barging ahead of AI29 and slowed both of them down. Iannone had the pace and they could have both been the benefactors of a gap together.

It has been a long time since AI29 looked like this to me, and I won't be quick to generalize from it. This race was an outlier. If you got just off line, you would be out laying in the grass. What he did is not acceptable. It is not enough for Ducati to be changing their lineup plans though. Race direction was firm. Ducati bosses were firm. It was amazing to see the non-verbal communication between the riders as they tumbled.

Enjoyed the Marquez-Rossi battle until the bike swap. So exciting! Rossi not coming out if the pits strong wasn't nearly as compelling as how bloody fast Marquez was on tires that hadn't scrubbed or up to temp, and a slightly different feel (fuel load, etc). That was amazing! The kid is GOOD.

I was a tad pleased when Lorenzo went down for two reasons. Mostly because it makes for a more interesting season to have him down a few points. But also...I made a "zip it" gesture at the TV when I saw the colour of the fairing in the grass. It will be VERY interesting to see him at Ducati. He is SO talented. Now we can get to see if he can get along as well w the mighty beast of grunt as well as with the precise carving tool.

Vinales...oh Vinales! You looked SO GOOD yesterday! We have had our glimpses of what he AND the Suzuki can do. It was beautiful! The damp patches in T1 and marbley feeling off-line tarmac grabbed him. He rode GREAT. Proud of him. I wish you could keep him Suzuki, and get your seamless out, and develop the bike just a bit further, get a win in the dry in Europe, and a second front running rider next year. But you won't keep him. He will be on 99's bike, which will also be a joy to behold. We may have our Alien folks. As Rossi returns to orbit they may pass like (space)ships in the night. And then there will be three?

On tires: all the perspectives re the weekend are understandable. The rider size (who had JUST the eve before said he enjoyed the sliding and spinning), the bike's power, the more flexible carcass, the track's demands, the small amount of testing, spec electronics stressing tires, and the TRACK CONDITIONS all made for something pretty oddly difficult. Don't forget Baz already touched on this once with their tire pressure, somewhat similar. Their quick change in profile shape on the front tire was good work. This all just went too quickly, let's see what they bring out next time. Perhaps their hard rear can have the stiffer construction for Ducati and the softer one get the more flexible one? Delaminating one tire ONE time under these circumstances? Understandable from my seat.

Bikes are moving around and sliding, even smoking rears again. Marquez is back to his loose style. Ducati has a win coming. Suzuki has a podium coming. Lorenzo is down some points. I don't think Herve is all that pleased with his current state of affairs at Tech3, and the satellite Hondas look a bit underwhelming. Pedrosa is on his back foot. The Aprilia is literally in early testing out there but with more to come. KTM is on the way. Sito Pons is back next year...with a satellite Suzuki perhaps?
Heck yes I am entertained. That was a Gladiator reference no?

Total votes: 134

It was a bitter sweet race for me. My man Lorenzo was so off colour (color!) and I think he better work on that mental block with intermittent weather to be a complete rider. Bad day at the office but still early days.

No matter how much they deny it, it is clear for all to see that Lorenzo will-he-won't-he go to Ducati is clearly affecting their riders, more so Ianonne and I think it will be in the best interest for Gigi to set a deadline on when the talks should come to an end as it is clearly costing his team. Still, that was a bonehead move by Ianonne. Dick Dastardly moniker actually suits him quite well as like the cartoon character, he has a package to win races cleaning but seems to go the harder( and uneccesary) route  

It is quite funny the likes of Pol are blaming Ducati for tire problems when it is clear that it is Michelin themselves who are coming up short. Some sense of jealousy me thinks. Over the years it is clear that Ducati have always had the most grunt and thus, any tire manufacturer entering the series should always accomodate this (and not in a biased way). Michelin should simply do better to avoid such incidents. Telling ducati to tone down their power is simply nonesense

Total votes: 132

Pol is not blaming Ducati for tyre problems.  hes blaming ducati for messing up everyone elses race becuase they cannot design their bike to fit a spec tyre.   Michelin will improve over time, but having everyone else punished becuase ducati eats tyres is a bit pathetic. 

But then ducati was given favours for the last number of years anyway, so its not that much different.

Total votes: 120

'The reigning champion lost ground at the start..' If I recall correctly he was leading in the first corner. After that he was indeed not half the man he was in Qatar.

I agree with the booing being a shame. Valentino Rossi is to blame for that, which is a very sad fact, given his position as one of the greatest of all times. I used to be a big fan of Rossi. Now I found myself grinding my teeth when he got his second place presented to him on a plate by Iannone with his silly mistake...

 

Total votes: 176

The only people to blame for the booing are the people who choose to boo. It really is as simple as that. 

Total votes: 159

I think Lorenzo's performance in 'tina might make his Ducati choice come a bit sooner. I think he will jump. I also think the Marquez podium fall was staged. The view from the stage right camera shows he didn't miss a beat in holding up his helmet and drink and mugging for the camera. Nice way to disarm potential boo-ers.

Total votes: 154

I really hope that Iannone will not become a new Simoncelli.

I - we - have been heartbroken enough.

Sometimes we are called to protect someone from himself (but also the rest of the field).

Dovizioso is probably the most patient team mate ever, from Pedrosa, to Stoner, to Cal, to Iannone..

Total votes: 156

"crowning the weekend, a fascinating MotoGP race, shortened and spiced up with a compulsory pit stop"

interesting, when a tyre issue led to a compulsory pitstop at Phillip Island, you lambasted the circuit, the organisers, the premier class, and labelled the whole motogp race a 'Farce'. 

 

Total votes: 132

Bridgestone's fifth year as spec tire supplier, at a track they knew had been resurfaced, and one where they have been going for 20-odd years.

Michelin's second race back in MotoGP, at a track MotoGP is visiting for the 3rd time ever. Very different circumstances.

Total votes: 173

...fantastic race report, thank you. And very much liking the new web layout - definitely worth all that hard work!

Total votes: 129

...but I beg to differ on the layout. While it looks good on wide screens, it suffers on old square monitors like mine. The login boxes overlaps into the content column, and the right column is only partially visible without scrolling (although it's not so important given the things on it). The rest is fine, although it took me a good while to find the way to log out. Again, this is on old square monitors only, and maybe just limited to my own. I need to get a new one...

Total votes: 135

I use my mobile (cell) so can't comment on pc either now or before the change. For my mobile device I find it hard to differentiate comments and replies. It now just looks like one big conversation which is a little annoying. though I'm not one for change anyway so that could be another part of the reason :)

Total votes: 131

Currently, the new website only modifies the standard layout slightly on a mobile device. Next on the list is a dedicated mobile design again. 

Total votes: 126

Marquez, clearly a cut above the other Honda pilots as usual.

Rossi, always in the picture.  For whatever reason, fortune always seems to shine on him. Ianonne could have taken him out rather than Dovi, but no.  Even if he lacks the last 2% of raw speed of his main rivals never having a truly bad day could yet bag him another title.

Pedrosa, much as I like Pedrosa these days and hope he succeeds, we have a decade of him only winning 2-3 races a year and it's just not enough for a championship.  Please Honda, give someone else a go.

Lorenzo, he's either in dominant form, or ready for the wheelchair and lap blanket.  Today was lap blanket day. So he's had his DNF for the year, last year it was Misano.  I'm expecting inconsistency from the Hondas and Ducatis, if Rossi continues terminator style like last year, Larry can't afford another lap blanket day.  Such a complex character.

Dovi, showed a lot of heart.  If numerous miracles happen and he wins the title by 2 points I will SO love it!

Of course a nobody such as myself has no right to criticise these guys, but what else can one do on the internet.  The rest?  So much fail.

Ianonne, fast, but too often seems a few snags short of a bbq.

Miller, sadly seems like Ianonne but with less fast and fewer snags.

Vinales, over-riding the Suzook?  Maybe, AE was nowhere but at least stayed upright.  A lot of hype for not much in the way of concrete results, the Tesla of MotoGP?

Others?  Realistically, any of the finishers behind Rossi were not even in the race but you've got to be happy for Laverty!  People whinging about Ducati somehow having a tyre advantage have a very short memory.  It's perfectly understandable for Michelin to have been caught short so early in their contract, but the bikes being too powerful is not any sort of excuse.  It's the manufacturers job to make the fastest possible bike for the formula, something Ducati has done extremely well, and it's the control tyre manufacturers job to provide something that can at least stay in one piece.  Longevity does not come into it since Redding's tyre failed early in the session.

Moto3, Pawi - WOW!  Just wow.  Hopefully he can build on that.

Moto2, yeahhh... well can't say I've bothered to watch.  Maybe if the week really stretches on, but I just can't hack those horrid shrieking pregnant shopping trolleys.  Have you noticed they are the only supposedly proper race bike I have ever seen which when they fall over, actually fall over beyond 90 degrees, like a BMW boxer?

 

 

 

 

Total votes: 145

It is not the manufacturers job to make a bike as fast as possible.  Its to make a  bike that will win a race and a championship.

If the ducati has produced a bike that eats tyres and doesnt make it to the end, then it doenst matter how fast it is.  Its their problem,  not everyonre elses on the track.

Total votes: 117

You say that Honda need to give someone else a chance on Pedrosa's bike, but you're back to the same question: who would do better?

Of the current motogp field, half the riders have been on the Honda and haven't performed, the other half are so closely tied.  Cal shows some talent, but still struggles with the Honda, and isn't a young up-and-comer.  Miller was brought in specifically to groom into a factory rider, but so far hasn't taken it seriously enough (first physically, now with being impetuous).  Pol showed early talent, but hasn't matured into a top rider. 

The really promising looking youngsters have moved up (Marc, Iannone, Rins, Maverick) but the rest of the successful recent riders of the junior classes seem to be the ones who've been there for years and are just shining by the absence of the truly talented youngsters when those have left (Zarco, Kent, Tito, Binder, etc).  Who would you move up to fill Dani's seat?

Total votes: 130

His famous words to VR are now needed by Iannone..."Obviously your ambition outweighed your talent" smiley

Thanks for another great article David! Spot on as usual yes

 

 

Total votes: 115

1: "Crazy Joe" has now crashed out of 4 races in a row going back to last year. Yikes. People are saying he's the one that will be kicked to the kerb, but I think he'd might do well without the pressure of being Ducati's #1. 

2. The Honda's rear grip was abysmal. Conversly, the Ducati hooks up like a drag car. At Qatar MM was giving up ~6 Kph but here it was ~10Kph. COTA's straight being after a 1st gear corner is going to be a big challenge for Honda. MM intimated as much in his interviews. 

Total votes: 137

The different paces of Rossi's bikes (seperated by a minute between uses) really drives home how important it is to have the bike set up properly.

The talent is on the field (and Rossi has been consistent for 20 years), but the talent in the garage is critical too!

Total votes: 140

Well, maybe I am just a naive motoGP fan, but if Jorge goes to Ducatti, of course Maverick is a great call for them, but maybe a better one is Dani. He is known to take the best of a smooth bike and it is almost unstoppable on a bike that gives him the right feelings. As the Honda engine seems to aggresive for his taste, maybe a smoother one with the right balance (Yamaha seems the best bike now) can make him feel the same when he was on the 250cc Honda... Just a thought... would be nice to see Dani challenging the rest on that bike. Of course it wont happen, but hey... can you imagine? ;)

Total votes: 157

Ducati should be able to help develop and use the tire that works best for their bike.As should every one else. And no other team should be penalized because Ducati can't utilize the spec tire. Spec tires take away from the racing, they do not add to it. 

Total votes: 129

Spec tyres are the rule of the day, in place to reduce costs. Design your machine to work with it.

I don't see that they take away from the racing. The days of flying out a special tyre to the stars just before qualifying or the race are long gone. The Michelins will evolve, just like the Bridgstones did.

Oh, and them that like pit stops, leg it over to F1 and see what a farce that is.

Total votes: 132

it was great to see the bikes slide, shake and struggle more than usual. Is this due to track itself or the tires? It seemed every rider was on the edge of binning it every so often, no one could ride super smooth and maybe that is one reason Lorenzo had a hard time? 

Total votes: 123

At Qatar folks praised Michelin because they actually had a choice of tires. Perhaps a bigger performance spread to cover from the Ducati to whichever bike is easiest on the rear would be a more prudent choice. I also don't see, since Michelin brought the "not to be used, emergency hard tire" which was to be the Sunday tire before the rains, that Ducati couldn't have been the only manufacturer forced to use it, and we could have avoided the pit stop race.

I too fear that AI might go the way of 68. Perhaps it is time to drop the "maniac" moniker...

 

Total votes: 120

The whole motogp weekend was a comedy of errors, but without the laughter.

It did make for an exciting race though..

MM93 seems to have found his form

JL99 just isn't quite the complete package yet

VR46 gifted a podium, but also gifted a underperforming second bike

"crazyjoe" yeah it happens, "all" (sic) he needs to do is beat Dovi to that elusive modern era first Ducati win and his employer will forget all about it

Dovi. Seems a nice guy. Sooner or later someone is going to realise that he's spent many years on factory bikes and had very few wins (iirc 1)

biggest loser to me, was Scott... Yeah, yeah what ifs and buts etcetc, but he would have finished on the podium IMO, DP did, and Scott was ahead of him and riding well

DP still the most humble and honest guy on our TV screens. I'll always say that 2012 should of been his year. FWIW my 'arm chair world champion' POV is that he really should of left Honda a long, long time ago, too many times his employer's bike just hasn't been good enough (trying to kill him with a stuck throttle, when he was in with a shout of the WC, sticking the brakes on when he was in with a shout of the WC) or just downright to over agressive.. Honda seem to have gone from it being about the engineering and as many bikes in the top 5 as possible, to needing a super talented rider to get a result, while the baulk of their riders struggle to single digit points scoring positions

Cal. Hmmmm one to forget, same for Miller, Pol, his brother and Brad

MV, young and hungry, we can forgive the kid that one methinks

Laverty. Beautiful, simply beautiful!

michelin, last week they beat an old lap record, don't people get critical really quickly... But yes criticism helps us grow stronger

capping the perfectly legal Ducati... Don't be daft, that truly is a joke IMO, with an ugly undercurrent of 2007, Ducati's turn around since Rossi left should be applauded, not penalised

bit early for title predictions... If MM93 delivers on his preseason promise to settle for points when he can, and still pulls out performances like that we he can, then the rest are going to struggle. But early days yet. 

Total votes: 134

Even though Iannone is screwing up royally so far this year, tearing up a lot more equipment than Dovi and making some rather, err, large and costly errors, in the end Ducati (or any other team) will always go with the faster man, who shows the most potential and promise for the future - always.

Even though he committed the cardinal sin in Argentina by taking out his teammate, I believe the faster man with the most long-term potential is Maniac Joe. He has not been given adequate opportunity yet to demonstrate that he can join the 'Alien' club - while Dovizioso has - and unfortunately #04 (as much as I like him) just seems not to be made of Alien matter. Besides, you can always tame a fierce and wild animal. The opposite is more complicated.

Furthermore, the body language and words that came out of both Ducati men after the race seems (Dovi is too resigned) to indicate that Lorenzo has already been signed up to be Iannone's teammate in 2017. AI (nor his father for that matter) just didn't seem overly concerned afterwards, considering the potential magnitude of cost to Joe's career, or to his and Ducati's 2016 Championship chances in his brain fart moment.

Maybe a contract is indeed already signed and in his back pocket, and this security certificate is what is lending to the recklessness we saw on display this weekend from The Maniac.

Total votes: 129

Ducati ended up the big losers on the day. Realistically speaking, the rider title for them is already off the table, but the manufacturer's title remains a possibility. Of the 2 factory riders I always figured the maniac was more likely to win a race than his almost there, rock solid team mate. After yesterday's race, I'm not so sure. Iannone must have known Dovi was right there prior to his banzai move on his mate Rossi. Dovi undercut it superbly with no risk to anyone and the rest is history. Fact is that Iannone is a serial offender much like Rossi and Marquez. Thing is Rossi and Marquez have the raw tallent required to stay on the bike whilst leaving the next man in the gravel thus making it look like an insanely brilliant overtake. Iannone does not have that acumen. Dovi on the other hand has the acumen to consistently grind out the best in any given situation and bring it home. Last year's second half season failures were by and large technical issues with his bike rather than his rider skills. One of the pair will be out of contract before long and if Ducati are smart they will retain #4 and #27. #27 huh? Politicking. Dovi is a neutral bloke like Capirex was at Ducati back then. #29 is apparently close to Rossi and we all know there is no love lost between #46 and #27. Ducati should retain Dovi based on his commitment and input to the entire project, especially in light of #27's and #4's inside track pertaining to HRC, Ducati and Yamaha (via Tech 3 in Dovi's case). Lorenzo to Ducati may prove to be as bad as Rossi to Ducati. As much as I am a big Lorenzo backer, I think he is too set in his ways and what he expects a bike to do. Ideally, Ducati need to get Marc Marquez away from HRC and place him alongside Dovi. Marquez needs to switch to another manufacturer quick and win title after title if he wants to leave a legacy second to no one. Personally, I think Lorenzo is pegged with Yamaha as his best bet for more titles. Michelin culpability? At the end of the day they did a decent job along with race direction given the ever changing situation over the course of the weekend and they will get better. Some riders and teams bemoaning the tire situation for the race in favour of the red bikes is nuts. The top red bikes were in the hands of Laverty and Barbera. The rest was in the hands of the locknut betwwen the footpegs and the handlebars. For sure if Bradley and Pol were on GP 16's and they finished 2nd and 3rd they would hardly be complaining. Rossi demonstrated it aptly as did Pedrosa and Hector Barbera. I have to give a shout out to Barbera. Much maligned bloke, but he has done a superb job with the Ducati 14.2 since last year. 

Moto2 was, well, Moto2. No disrespect to teams and riders but this single manufacturer class must be dismantled and replaced with 500cc twins, 81mm bore open for all manufacturers.

Moto3 as ever, the best spectacle even when a new tallent wins by 25 odd seconds. That is the one race I make a point of not missing for anything.

 

 

 

 

 

Total votes: 118

I see this same argument over and over again, but to me it makes no sense to go to 500cc bikes. It just doesn't seem right that a Moto2 motor should make less power than a WSS bike. Which is the case now and wouldn't be different with a 500. This is just an idea I'm throwing out there, but if they insist on sticking with a spec engine after the current contract with Honda is up, maybe a Suzuki 750 motor could be a possibility. It makes around 125ish hp in stock form, and with mild tuning could make the same power as a WSS 600 at an affordable cost. It also should be readily available if Suzuki wanted to do it.

Total votes: 115

Mixed feelings on the tires.  It's hard to see everyone else punished when Ducati seems to be the only one having problems with the tires.  OTOH, Michelin needs to build tires that everybody can use.

Disappointed in/for Jorge.  From my point of view, he seems to be able to extract the last bit of performance out of a bike under known conditions.

Dani, Rossi, and from there on back all got lucky.  Obviously, they stayed upright and earned their points, but their points reflect other riders' errors rather than their own pace.  Dani is fortunate to still be in the hunt after a weak start to the year.  Rossi appears to have the pace to finsh 4th or 5th, and may have to rely on others' misfortunes to compete for the championship.

I've been a fan of Crazy Joe, but am becoming less so.

Not a huge Dovi fan, but feel the worst for him.  He deserved the podium.

Felt bad for Maverick, too.  Good run, no points.  I don't expect him to seriously contend for the championship, but think he will score several podiums this year, and hopefully can pull off a win.

It was good to see Tito score so high up, but again, based on other riders' issues rather than his pace.

Marc has been most impressive to me.  I haven't been a fan of his, but he seems to be maturing as a person and as a rider.  He will be hard to beat next week.  Last year's TX pole showed a lot of character, drive, and skill.  

Having lived in Argentina for a while, it is cool to see the races and the contract renewal.  Hopefully the track will be much better prepped in the coming years.  It's good to see the tensions between Argentina and England calming down.  Hopefully the peacefulness extends beyond the race track.

Total votes: 113

The issue for me with the tyre fiasco is that, should this be a Ducati issue, other manufacturers have designed their bikes and used their time to work with what they were given.  If things change because the Ducati eats the tyres then all the work done previously by the others is time and money wasted.  Having said that, with limited time to figure out the actual cause I can understand why such action was taken this weekend.

I don't think it should go back to the days of overnight specials for each rider/track but I don't see why Michelin can't work with each manufacturer during pre season tests to provide each manufacturer a specific tyre that allows each bike to utilise its own strengths and which is decided on prior to the start of the season.  Or perhaps let them pick one from a sample set of say 5 various structures but the with same compounds.  Again, whatever they pick after the final test is what they use for the year.

Regarding the booing of Lorenzo.  If you play the pantomine villain one moment by making provocative actions, thumbs down, zip your mouth etc, surely you must expect to get an equal and opposite reaction?  It's then up to his fans to make a bigger noise in return.

Total votes: 121

weekend, I'm inclined to agree with the riders who have stated that everyone had to change because of a problem with one satellite Ducati. Albeit a very dangerous situation though. 

The race was a complete contrast, Rossi was definately strongest in the first part and then look like he jumped on the 2013 M1 during the stop! Marquez was the opposite, and Jorge just zipped his own mouth shut I guess

Total votes: 121

I am not sure I understand Lorenzo's logic, given he is a rider that seems to benefit from predictable levels of traction, why would he swap to the brand with most unpredictable level of traction?

I know he is a friend of Stoner's, and Lyn Jarvis will stay at Yamaha, one suspects that the team manager at Ducati for Lorenzo may well end up being his friend Casey, any chance of Chaz Davis getting the second spot if he wins the WSB title?

I love supposition and conspiracy....

Brilliant summation, Mr Emmett is a virtual cornucopia of great reading.

Total votes: 132

I'm not the biggest fan of Ducati.  I've owned two of them, and they're the two worst bikes I've ever owned.  I hear their quality control and engineering are a bit better these days, so who knows, but I'm not what you'd call a fan of the marque.

But I think they're being wrongly criticized by competing riders with regard to the tire delamination problem.  Quite frankly, I'd really like to know how Ducati has done what they've done.  They're all on the same rules now, so they're all making do with the same number of engines and the same liters of fuel.  So how is Ducati making SO much more power!?  It can really be only one of two things: They've made a breakthrough in engine durability that the others haven't or their engines are going to be popping like shaken beer cans later in the season.  Because, make no mistake about it, all of the riders complaining about Ducati's power advantage WANT Ducati's power advantage.  If Yamaha or Honda or Suzuki could pull that off, they'd be doing it too.

So I'm not blaming Ducati for this fiasco.  On the contrary, my jaw is on the floor at their ability to build a bike that somehow handles damn near as well as a Yamaha, is smoother than a Honda, yet has seemingly 30 more hp than either.  No, this one's squarely on Michelin.  This is the second incident we've had in which a rear Michelin has delaminated.  They say it's due to tire pressure and the heaviest riders on the most powerful bikes on the grid.  Yeah, so?  If I were a rider, I would hope for a larger safety margin built into my tires than ten or twenty kilos of rider weight.

I think the problem is that Michelin feels under pressure to beat Bridgestone's times on the first go.  Or at least be close.  And I think this is ridiculous.  No fan is going to care if a race takes ten seconds longer over race distance so long as there is good passing and close, fair racing.  With this in mind, the proper approach for Michelin would be to ease into things with known safe tires at every track for this first year.  As more data is accumulated, they could then move closer to the ragged performance edge, having a better idea of the safety margin.  A tire should be able to handle the stress that any of these riders on any of these bikes can throw at it.  And then some.  Any discussion of how lightweight or relatively low-powered a bike must be in order for the tire to not explode is just missing the point.  The point being why are they building tires so close to the edge in the first place that there is even a remote chance that they'll explode?

Total votes: 129

During and after typing up the above response to this article, I noticed a few issues that have cropped up since the site rebuild.  First, it seems that my browser's inline spell-checker is disabled in text input boxes on this site.  For example, there's no squiggly red line under the word kornucopia that I've just misspelled.

Then, once you finish the post and click the preview button, a big white box appears below the subject of my comment, masking the body of the content.  If I highlight the words in the comment, I can see them.  In other words, the background of the comment preview box is the same color as the comment preview text.  I've taken screenshots with the text not highlighted http://i.imgur.com/YCima31.jpg and highlighted http://i.imgur.com/nNyyW5r.jpg for an example.

Total votes: 129

I have the same issues, from your pictures it looks like we're both using Firefox.

Total votes: 118

Firefox.

Total votes: 120

What does "flag to flag" mean?  I thought every race was flag to flag.

Total votes: 132

MotoGP changed rules somewhat years ago no longer stopping a motogp race when rain comes out in a dry race, riders will now swap the bike instead, allowing them to race 'flag to flag' despite the rain.

Total votes: 115

All races held under normal conditions are flag to flag. But in adverse circumstances like rain or too much wind and things that can compromise rider safety the race is red flagged in the middle. If the race has run 2/3rds (or 3/4ths I cannot remember which) then if adversity strikes the race will be deemed completed. Otherwise the riders come into the pit lane change their tyres and go out again take their places on the grid and the race is run again from where it was left off and the aggregate of both halves of the race are put together to decide who is the winner. But if I am not mistaken this has now been changed to the grid will form according the riders' position at the time of red flagging the race and it will continue and whoever crosses the line first is the winner. In the time aggregation system somebody could have been leading the race with say a 7 second difference over the rest of the field, then his nearest competitor must wipe out the 7 seconds lead and then get ahead of the original leader. In this complex system the rider who crosses the line first need not be the winner. The winner could even come in say fifth position but will still be winner. 

If you are watching this on TV the commentators will give the real position as opposed to the track position. But at the circuit even though there were circuit commentators who would be giving these updates, the noise in the grand stands make it not so clear as to what is happening. Those who are in other places of the circuit they don't get to know much. Like I said if I am not mistaken, now post the stoppage, the restart is as per the positions prior to the stoppage and those who cross the line first finish the race in first place. With the exception of MotoGP in all forms of motorcycle racing these days only one motorcycle is allowed per rider (this includes the Moto3 and Moto2 classes in the GP series and in all categories of racing in World Superbikes). But in the MotoGP class each rider is allowed two motorcyles and one is used with a wet setup in the event of rain. It will also be wearing treaded tyres to prevent aquaplaning. In a flag to flag race if the race is declared as a dry race at the beginning then people start on slicks and when it rains the riders come into the pit lane and change bikes since the mechanics will keep the motorcycle in a position where the rider hops of the bike with the slicks and onto the one with wet weather tyres. However once the wet weather tyres are on, the rider can pit only come back into the pit to pick up the bike that has slicks on it. 

That is why it is called flag to flag since the riders do not actually stop in the pit, they change their steeds are out since being slow compromises their position on track. Now if you are baffled by why the other day in Argentina despite there being no rain people were talking about a flag to flag. This happened because in the 4th free practice, the Pramac Ducati GP 15 motorcyle being ridden by Scot Redding shredded (technically delaminated) and an enquiry was conducted into why such a thing happened. Michelin finally declared that the running the race on one of the tyre compounds could lead to tyre failures which compromises the safety of the riders. Therefore, with the permission of Race Direction, it was decided that the race would be curtailed to 20 laps instead of the usual 25 laps. Another rule was made saying that it was mandatory for all riders to come into the pit lane either at the beginning of the 9th lap or the end of the 11th lap and change motorcycles which were on dry tyres. Since the riders had to come into the pits and change their bikes even though they were slicks it was called a flag to flag race since the whole race was not run on motorcycle without coming into the pits.  The change of motorcycles was possible because in MotoGP the tyre rule was tweaked to accomodate Michelin's problems. 

I cannot remember the exact year but in Formula 1 too at Indianapolis Michelin tyres were deemed to be dangerous and could burst and lead to an accident by Michelin itself. In those days Bridgestone was also there but providing tyres only to Ferrari and the Jordan F1 team. That year is also significant for another reason; there would be no changing of tyres in the course of the race. The same tyres that one started their race on would have to be carried till the end of the race. Michelin said they would not compromise on safety and so they sent out an advisory (more like an order) to all the Michelin teams that it would be dangerous to race. So all the Michelin tyred cars did not complete the race. They did one lap and came back into the pits and retired the cars so that it would not look like a boycott of the race. The two Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello and the Jordans of Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikyan ran the full distance. The Ferraris ended up one and two with Schumacher being the winner and the third place on the podium went to Tiago Monteiro. This farce of a race led to the change of rules in the following year with pit stops for tyres being allowed again. Hope I have answered your question correctly Tanker Man Sir. 

Total votes: 122

If anyone has some expertise on cleaning tracks, it's gotta be the crews who care for the tracks upon which run the cars that are incapable of running in anything other than perfect, dry conditions.  Rent of few a those crews and their equipment, and it'd probably set a new standard for MotoGP track conditions.

Total votes: 126

Mick Doohan once said "it's easier to teach a fast bloke how not to crash than to teach a slow bloke how to go fast"

 

Total votes: 122

Nice comments from everyone, I will only address the dirty track issue, back in my corner of the woods, we got a lot of rain and sometimes the track is fill of damp patches, I can't believe that at our level we resolve by letting in the riders and friends to tear up the track in their family cars (not at race pace) and within 10 to 15  minutes the track is pristine dry. Even at our level we have big blowers and a roller to clean the track, which makes me pop up a conspiracy theory about why the track wasn't even sweep with a broom? Did they wanted this mess to happen? hahaha

Total votes: 123

Hi David, thanks so much for your site and glad to finally be able to support it...I'm hoping you might devote some time to comment further upon Pawi's startling ride and his background? I'm guessing that SE Asian riders are likely (sub-tropical climate) to have more experience in those types of conditions, but even considering that, I'm struggling to remember a more startling ride....but I'm sure someone out there can name some!

Total votes: 130

Anyone else notice that Ianonne's winglet/strake hit Marquez in his back and was likely also the part that took out his rear-facing camera?    That winglet was also missing (snapped off) because of the collision.   

I'm kind of surprised that with all the talk about how dangerous winglets are this hasn't been mentioned anywhere.   I guess it just got over-shadowed by all the rest of the circus.

Total votes: 126

It's not so surprising. The 'winglets are dangerous' rhetoric doesn't depend on evidence. The fact that they did not contribute anything extra dangerous to the racing in this race is the reason they're not mentioned.

Total votes: 111

For VR, BS, PE and CC to say that because Ducati had a rear ryre explosion that they were handed an advantage when everyone had to use tyres which nobody had tested is stupid. 

I can see that they may have gained a percieved advantage in that they are believed to tend to lose grip later in the race. The Quatar result doesn't really bear this out though? 

It is a Michelin problem and not a Ducati problem. They must produce a tyre capable of withstanding the performance of all competitors. Ducati were similarly powerful last year with no tyre explosions! The organisers were left with little choice in the face of the uncertainty of the life expectancy of the rubber, Redding's rear tyre had completed only seven laps efore coming apart.

 

Total votes: 129

Darkraven, I appreciate your take based solely on a bhp issue. So what if a 600cc transverse 4 makes more power than a 500cc twin.The twin versus 4 issue has been done to death over the years in SBK. There is no argument about it. 4 cylinder, equal capacity, similar engine layout generates 4:3 bhp output potential vs twin. Hence 1199 vs 1000 in SBK. However this is the premier league and a level playing field for all should prevail. Personally, I view Moto2 as the Honda cup challenge. I would like to see the current M2 600cc format eliminated before season's end. The 250cc 81mm x 1cylinder M3 bore and 1000cc 81mm x 4 cylinder MGP bore constraints, logically suggest M2 should be 500cc 81mm x 2. The 250cc singles kick out maybe 60 to 70 bhp, a 500 twin maybe 130+bhp and in the hands of the factory efforts regarding chassis, they will lap quicker than Supersport bikes and provide a consequential stepping stone for riders from M3 through GP. Were the GPC to go the route of 500cc twins, you may well have the likes of BMW, KTM and Kawasaki joining the fray. No doubt, Ducati, Suzuki and Yamaha would be inclined to participate.

This would also open up paths for rider's and teams, financially unequipped to showcase there tallent on the springboard to GP One.

From where I sit it is a logical progression.

M2 is odd man out in this series.

 

Total votes: 125

I would agree with you (Mr. Pit Bull) that 500cc twins is the most logical thing to do. In the hey days of the two strokes it was 125 cc single, 250cc twin and 500cc four cylindered machines were more or less the norm. The exceptions to the norm (there was no rule on the number of cylinders in the 500cc category) were first the twin cylindered 500cc made by Honda (it was called the Honda 500SS I think) and ridden by various riders such as Takuma Aoki (who went quadriplegic I think after an accident) and he showed that he could stay with the four cylindered ones and I vaguely remember that maybe Tadayuki Okada and even Sete Gibernau using the machine. There was a litany of various Japanese riders using those machines as wild cards. Then there was the 3 cylindered and 400cc machine that Aprilia brought into MotoGP but was hampered on the straights as far as speed was concerned but did well in corners. Aprilia did not have the patience to develop that machine and patience was required since Colin Edwards coming out of WSBK wanted to ride it with Michelin tyres and therefore there were two aspects that needed development. Then there was the KR3 of Kenny Roberts' team ( Roberts was running the factory Yamaha effort in both the 250cc and the 500cc , but the 250 cc team was handed over to Wayne Rainey using Tetsuya Harada as the sole rider while Roberts continued to run the 500cc factory Yamahas  and later on handed over the 500cc team to Wayne Rainey and Yamaha withdrew from the 250cc category) and Roberts then said that he was moving on from being the biggest team in the MotoGP paddock to the smallest constructor team.

The KR3 featured a three cylindered engine designed by Tom Walkinshaw Racing (Walkinshaw worked with Michael Schumacher and Flavio Briotore at Benetton F1 team but brought the Arrows name back to F1 by buying out Team Footwork and made his own F1 engine) and a propriety chassis and this motorcycle was initially called Modenas KR3 since the Malaysian company was a big contributor to Roberts' efforts and later changed to Proton KR3 when Proton took over the job of financing the team. The bike showed great potential but the switch to four strokes signalled the end of Team Roberts who had a disastrous flirting with KTM who provided the engine but fell out with them and then built a V5 like Honda and this motor failed spectacularly and Roberts then went to use the engines of Honda that powered their RC 211V and the RC 212V and finally closed down. While the 5 cylindered KR5 was a disaster of Mammoth proportions the KR3 was a great potential with a great chassis and an engine that needed more horses. If the switch to 4 strokes had not happenened it would have developed further perhaps.  

I wrote this long post because I feel that big factories like Honda are the most influential in making decisions for MotoGP and they are more interested in pursuing their own interests rather than that of the sport. I therefore lament the move from 2 to 4 stroke machinery. In the good old days much mechanical experimenting was possible and a wide variety of technologies and solutions to problems was possible. Now  it is all electronics and more electronics. To me it seems as if the motorcycles are gigantic mobile phones which are being raced around by nasty (Valentino Rossi) or cry babies (like Jorge Lorenzo and when he was competing, Casey Stoner as well) like humanoids and if we let Yamaha have its way the day when races will be run with robots as riders is not very far away.

Total votes: 115

I feel very strongly about this M2, one engine supplier issue and optional chassis maker, so what scenario.

I did enjoy your long post as it did highlight many issues of yore. 

The only complaint the GPC could have against changing to 500cc twins, 81mm bores, may have something to do with the cost of mass producing twins of various configurations, tranverse, L and V. On the other hand we see consumer road and dirt bikes displaying a plethora of engine layout configurations. Its no big deal. HRC won't like it but who cares anyway? I follow M3 and GP and M2 is a lunch break interruption for myself and the pit bull's on any Sunday.

Cornucopia. Nice one David. 

This one is totally off topic but I did have a chuckle. My first encounter with the word was courtesy of the metal band Black Sabbath on their VOL 4 album circa '72, I think, height of 2 stroke ascendancy.

Black Sabbath for M2's format I hope, sooner rather than later.

Anyway Austin beckons.

Total votes: 121