2016 Brno MotoGP Sunday Round Up: A Deserving Winner, and the Trouble with Tires

There were a lot of firsts at Brno on Sunday. Perhaps the most consequential was the fact that we saw the first wet race in the MotoGP/500 class ever to be held at the Masarykring, the modern purpose-built circuit which replaced the old road circuit at Brno. That had a lot of knock on effects: we saw a surprise winner in the premier class, a shift in the championship, and a long race of strategy, where some riders got it spot on, and others got it horribly wrong. All this without the race even having to be restarted, or riders having to pass through the pits. Though of course, some did...

The MotoGP race was both fascinating and entertaining, and an object lesson in how changing weather can make morning warm up lead riders down the wrong path. On a sodden track, with the rain still falling heavily in the morning, there were serious concerns among some riders that the softest compound wet tire which Michelin had brought was not going to be soft enough to provide enough grip. "This morning with the extra soft the tire was completely new after nine laps," Andrea Dovizioso said.

It rained throughout the Moto3 race – which provided enormous entertainment, a first-time winner and another first-time podium visitor – and kept raining during Moto2 – a less exciting affair, but one which still managed to shake up the championship. The rain eased off on the final laps of Moto2, then just about stopped in the break between the end of the Moto2 race and the start of MotoGP. It was a welcome development for us hacks: chasing through the paddock to talk to Moto3 riders after the race, we had endured a soaking. The same run down to the other end of the paddock in search of Moto2 riders was a far more pleasant affair. The need to scurry from garage to garage under the shelter of balconies was gone.

Crystal ball time

All this put the MotoGP riders in a terrific dilemma. The track was still completely wet, with water still flowing across it in some places. At the same time, the sky was growing visibly brighter, clouds were lifting slightly, and it had stopped raining. They had a choice to make between the two compounds of rain tire which Michelin had brought. Most plumped for the safe option, sticking with the soft tires at both front and rear.

The weather would prove crucial. Based on experience and intuition, they took a chance on different combinations. MotoGP photographer Cormac Ryan Meenan messaged a group of journalists that he had overheard Valentino Rossi say he believed the track would be dry 25 minutes into the race. Jorge Lorenzo thought otherwise. "My instincts say that the track will not dry up soon enough to change bike," he told reporters. On a full wet track, the soft wets would be the only viable option. On a drying track, the hard wets – or if it was dry enough, the intermediates – would be the best choice. If the track dried quickly, it would be better to use up the extra grip of the soft wets, before going in for slicks. If it dried slowly, then hard wets were the best option for the race. Riders gambled. Some won. Most lost.

Luck or judgment?

The right bet proved to be the hard tire at the rear, and probably the hard tire at the front as well. But was it really a gamble, or an educated guess? "People are always going to say, is it a gamble, is it not a gamble?" eventual winner Cal Crutchlow said "I was adamant that was what I was doing. So, is that a gamble? I don’t think it is. That’s what I wanted to do, and I did it." The job of the rider and his crew is to make their best assessment of conditions, figure out the optimum set up for those conditions, and then ride to them, extracting maximum performance from themselves, their bikes, and the tires they choose. Get any one of those steps wrong, and they lose. But the rewards are rich for getting it right.

It certainly didn't feel like the right choice at the beginning of the race. "The first laps were a nightmare," Valentino Rossi told the press conference, after he chose the hard rear tire and the soft front. "I was desperate. I did a mistake another time, everybody overtake from the outside, from the inside." Cal Crutchlow concurred. "Actually the [hard] rear was the worst part because it was really difficult the first five laps to go in the left-hand corner, go in and come out. It was quite dangerous. I nearly crashed a couple of times."

Unstoppable Crutchlow

As the laps ticked off, it was evident that the hard rear was the right choice. In the early laps, the riders with the hard rear went backwards, Jorge Lorenzo dropping through the field like a stone after a very strong start, the same as Rossi and Crutchlow. After five laps, the hard tires started to come into their own. Both Rossi and Crutchlow stopped losing ground on lap five, and the next lap they found themselves the fastest riders on the grid. On lap 6, Crutchlow was ten seconds down, but nearly a second a lap faster than the race leader Andrea Iannone. On lap 7, he was 1.6 seconds a lap faster. A couple of laps later, his advantage had grown to nearly two seconds a lap, and he was closing fast.

He joined the leading group on lap 13, sitting in behind Andrea Iannone for a couple of laps before pulling the pin and opening a gap. He would have no challengers for the rest of the race, and cruised home to victory. "Honestly, I was cruising around," Crutchlow said after the press conference." I was playing with them. When I was with that group I was rolling the throttle. I wanted to follow one guy per lap to let the laps go down because it was boring." He was not exaggerating: by the time he crossed the line – wasting time looking over his shoulder, and pulling a massive stand up wheelie – he was over seven seconds ahead of Valentino Rossi, and 24 seconds ahead of the man he had taken the lead from earlier.

Valentino Rossi had set a similarly spectacular pace, but had been forced to ease up a little to save the softer front tire he had selected. The Italian was in full tire management mode for the last few laps. While the rear was still providing grip, the front needed to be nursed home. Rossi was still faster than everyone on the grid bar Crutchlow, Loris Baz and Eugene Laverty, but only Crutchlow was ahead of him. Rossi took the points on the table, realizing the harder front might have been the better choice.

Succeeding despite the wrong choice

While we must admire the intelligence of the choices made by Crutchlow and Rossi, the strength of Marc Márquez' performance cannot be overstated. Márquez had gambled on the track drying out, and so had kept the soft front and soft rear. He benefited from the soft tire in the early laps, as did everyone on the soft tires. But he managed the tires throughout the race, being even more careful towards the end, seeking out water on the track wherever he could find it to help cool the tires.

To take third at Brno, with tires entirely unsuited to the job at hand, is a testament to both his skill at managing conditions, and the almost uncharacteristic calm he is exuding this season. The win it or bin it attitude is gone. Now, Márquez is playing the long game, having decided that winning races is nice, but winning championships is nicer. It is a hard lesson learned last year.

Ducatis coming

Márquez could have faced much fiercer competition for the final podium spot, if Loris Baz and Eugene Laverty had gotten a better start, and taken some places in the early laps. But both men had struggled early, the set up for the harder tire costing them while the track was still wet. "I was angry with myself, because into turn three at the start I lost four or five positions because with the hard rear tyre I had no grip and it went sideways," Eugene Laverty told us. "Track position was so important in those early laps because the guys I was racing were all on the softer rear and I'd be on their back wheel but they'd slingshot out of corners."

For Baz, the issue was a slightly oversprung rear shock. "Maybe the rear shock was too hard because I was losing a lot on the exit of corners and couldn't overtake anyone," Baz said, speaking to us in a garage filled with elated team members and guests, every one of them with a glass of champagne in their hands. "It took me two laps to overtake an Aprilia and Eugene so that's where I lost the time for third place but this is still fantastic!" There was double the reason for celebration in the Avintia garage, Hector Barbera having finished fifth behind Baz, making it fourth and fifth for the team. Barbera had gone with the soft option, but had again managed his tires well, finishing ahead of Eugene Laverty and demoting him to sixth.

The key to success

What did the riders who were fast at the end of the race all have in common? They were all on the hard rear tire. Even Jorge Lorenzo, who by that time was a lap down, was on a charge, and the fastest man on track. So fast, indeed, that he was able to get back past Rossi and Márquez to reduce his deficit from two to just a single lap. Like his teammate, he had started on the hard rear and soft front, but unlike his teammate, the soft front hadn't lasted.

After dropping back from second on the grid to sixteenth, he clawed his way back up to tenth. In doing so, he set a lap time only matched by Cal Crutchlow. That proved to be too much for Lorenzo's soft front wet tire, the central strip of rubber partially detached, making the bike very hard to ride. He came into the pits to swap bikes, hoping his team would swap the front tire. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he rolled into the pits and stopped in just the wrong spot, the damaged part of the tire facing down, and hidden by the tarmac. To his team, and crew chief Ramon Forcada, the front tire looked perfect, when it wasn't.

It's the pits

That caused problems in the pits. A heated discussion followed Lorenzo's attempt to switch bikes, but the team finally understood. "Firstly, they didn't understand, because the zone where I stopped the bad part of tire was on the tarmac, so the front tire looked perfect," Lorenzo explained. "So it was only when they moved the bike that they understood that the tire was missing a piece. So that's probably why Ramon didn't understand why I wanted to bike. So I changed to slicks, but the track was too wet, so it was really really dangerous. I just wanted to finish the lap and change again the bike, because it was not worth it to keep riding. And very bad luck, because with this tire, we couldn't finish the race, like Dovizioso, like Iannone."

When Lorenzo came in for the second time, he switched back to wets, with a brand new front. That put him back into contention, and made him once again the fastest man on track. After such a strange sequence of events, the easy conclusion to draw was that Lorenzo was once again suffering in the wet. Easy, but incorrect, as the timesheets showed: with the hard rear and soft front, Lorenzo was slow at the beginning, like everyone else who started on the hard rear. But once the hard rear came in, Lorenzo was competitive.

The defective front tire left the Spaniard feeling frustrated. "I was probably the fastest rider in this moment, together with Cal and Rossi, who were more or less the fastest on track," he said. "And I feel I could be even faster, to finish surely 3rd, and maybe even 2nd. But I couldn't finish the race."

Front tire woes

Lorenzo wasn't the only rider to suffer with issues with the front tire. By now, anyone with a Social Media account will have seen the shots of Andrea Iannone's front tire. Having lost most of the rubber tread, Iannone kept on going, managing to finish eighth, almost miraculous under the circumstances.

Others suffered similar problems. Maverick Viñales started having issues with his front tire on lap 17, Scott Redding's front tire was shot by lap 20. Lorenzo's tire had gone on lap 15, right after he set his fastest lap of the race up until that point. Andrea Dovizioso had the worst of it, his front losing rubber on lap 10, before the halfway mark.

With so many tires losing rubber, are Michelin's wet tires unsafe? That would be an easy conclusion to draw, but like so many easy conclusions, probably incorrect. There are a couple of common themes running through the front tire failures, which point to obvious causes.

The right tire for the right conditions

The main one, which Michelin Motorsports boss Nicolas Goubert pointed out to me, and then reiterated in the press release, is that the soft tires were made for full wet conditions. The reason for bringing two different compounds of wet tires was to cope with a wide range of conditions. The soft tire was meant to deal with a track that was absolutely soaking, with patches of water. The rubber is almost as soft as chewing gum, and incredibly sticky. The hard tire is meant to help clear water from a drying track, and withstand the heat generated by a dry line.

In short, the riders who chose the soft tires were taking a big gamble, and using the tires for conditions they were not designed to handle. Many riders – among them Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales – had expected to come in and swap bikes at some point as the track dried. The soft tires were more than capable of handling half race distance on a drying track, being swapped for intermediates or slicks.

But the track didn't dry out enough to allow riding with slicks, or even intermediates. There were large sections of the circuit which remained fully wet, while others had a wide drying line. More experienced riders understood that the track would not dry out as quickly as it had at the Sachsenring, because of the nature of the circuit. "At the Sachsenring, it was possible to switch over to slicks because it dried so quickly," Eugene Laverty explained. "There's one line at that track, and it's just a case of joining the dots between the apexes. Here there are so many left to right corners and there's a lot of variation in the lines here between the different bikes so the track wouldn't dry as quick. It's one line in Germany but there's so many left to rights here that riders are going everywhere. "

The downside of downforce

Laverty had chosen the hard rear, but stuck with the soft front. And here's where another common factor comes into play. Of the five bikes which had issues with the front tire, four have massive winglets, and the fifth has just had its winglets enlarged. Those winglets place a considerable additional stress on the front tire – they are designed to do so, to allow the bike to accelerate harder without creating any extra wheelie.

Sources with knowledge of the subject insist that the Ducati GP15s and GP16s produce around 10% more torque than the GP14.2s, yet in Austria, out of the slow corners, they were only showing around six or seven millimeters of wheelie. The GP14.2s, with less power and now wings, were getting their front wheels well into the air, with wheelie measured in centimeters rather than millimeters.

The Ducatis also offer a lot more engine braking than other bikes, which can affect the rear tire as well. That was one reason Andrea Dovizioso believed he had overheated his front tire, as he had tried to save the rear tire by stressing it less. "I didn't use the maximum power I was able to use and I tried to be smooth with the rear tire, so I created overheating on the front tire. That's why I lose the piece [from the front tire]."

For Iannone and Redding, the issue was not that their fronts went, but that they lasted so long. For Viñales, perhaps he pushed a little too hard in the early laps, and paid the price later on. For Lorenzo, he was pushing very hard when the tire went, in the final third of the race. Dovizioso is the only anomaly, losing tread even before the halfway mark.

The blame game?

So were the tire failures because Michelin brought inadequate material, or because the teams were using the material improperly? For the most part, the latter explanation is the most realistic. Expecting the soft wet tires to last on a drying track was unrealistic, and so the teams should have fitted the hard fronts, especially for riders who stress the front more. That they didn't is also understandable. "This morning with the extra soft the tire was completely new after nine laps," Dovizioso said.

This comes down in part to a lack of experience, both on the part of Michelin and on the part of the teams. There has not been much rain at MotoGP tracks up until Assen, and so Michelin have not had data to work on tire design, and the teams have not had data to try to understand the behavior of the tires. In particular, how the winglets affect the performance of the tires is an issue, and one which appears to have been overlooked.

It is also clear that tire managed plays an important role. Valentino Rossi managed to finish the race with the soft front, despite his teammate having an issue. Marc Márquez and Hector Barbera finished with soft tires, and Eugene Laverty used the soft front. Of the top six riders, only two used the hard front, while four used the hard rear. Yet they all still finished within fourteen seconds of each other. Take away Cal Crutchlow's monster 7.3 second advantage, and places two to six finished within six and a half seconds of one another, with a complete mix of tires.

Lessons to learn

Yet the fact that Dovizioso's front tire went after ten laps is a concern. Even taking into account the factory Ducati rider's stressing the front by attempting to save the rear, and the added downforce of the winglets, ten laps is not very long, even in difficult conditions. There are lessons here to be learned for Michelin. But they need to learn the right ones.

In the past, Bridgestone learned a lot about building rain tires which were capable of withstanding the punishment of a dry or drying track by sending a test rider out on wet tires to circulate on a completely dry track. Their instructions were to keep lapping until the tires destroyed themselves, after which the tires and the data was analyzed. That produced rain tires of phenomenal endurance. If Michelin are not already doing this, then maybe they could start.

And now the championship?

The tire shenanigans had a serious impact on the MotoGP championship. Marc Márquez' cool head allowed him to extend his lead in the title race, despite finishing behind Valentino Rossi. Jorge Lorenzo's dismal day saw him tumble to third in the standings, a couple of points behind his teammate. But Márquez' advantage is now 53 points, with just seven races to go. So far, in addition to riding maturely and brilliantly, Márquez has also had a great deal of luck.

Or rather, his rivals have had bad luck, made poor decisions, or struggled with the tires. Valentino Rossi's engine blow up at Mugello was just bad luck, but his crashes in Austin and Assen were all down to pushing too hard too early. Jorge Lorenzo has had awful trouble in the wet, but also been taken out by Andrea Iannone at Barcelona. Take away those zeros, and the championship is a lot tighter than it looks.

On the other hand, Marc Márquez hasn't made the same mistakes as the Movistar Yamaha rider. And in the end, that's what counts: it is not enough to win, you also have to ensure you don't lose.


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Total votes: 120
Total votes: 103

Comments

"Crutchlow is over rated"
"Crutchlow's mouth writes cheques his talent can't cash"
"He's a whiner, horrible complaining attitude w too many excuses"
So on, so forth. Where are you folks now?
Always liked the guy and respected the racer. GREAT race Cal!

Tires and choices made this interesting. Iannone's front center outer delaminating and flying off in bits was interesting to see (our new camera resolution is delicious eh?). No need to criticise Michelin, soft rains made it to the end on a drying track. Poor Redding, look where he finished! And Dovi, he pulled out when his tires went off right, not a mechanical? Followed by his version of angry ("pardon me, but darn it!") and a bit of data acquisition before calling it a day. At the beginning it seemed perhaps we could see bike changes or even intermediates out (not counting whatever the heck Lorenzo was up to). Lorenzo - I am emulating his style on my bike, trying to get over the front and smooth. But wow, when he is off he is WAY off. Narrow parameters and rigid approach.

I would have thought that we would have had several crashers today. And that the soft rears on the Ducatis would shred on a drying track. Also that Vinales might have had a better day. Huh. The brain was busier than usual. Interesting Brno this year.

THIRTY FIVE! Congrats mate!

Total votes: 128

Alright, calm down. He made the correct tyre choice. Much as I like Cal, tyre choice was everyhing. 

So glad he has broken the 35 year curse and after all the downs he finally wins a race. 

Total votes: 112

One element of winning any race is preparing the bike, that includes choosing tyres. Much like Rossi at Argentina in 2015, they won because they were the fastest package. 

Total votes: 93

Okay, Crutchlow seems like a decent enough guy but to stand there and belittle the field ("Oh I was just playing with them to not make the race boring") was just wrong.  So what were you doing in all those other races where you were crashing out?  I know he gets a lots of credit for riding hard but let's be honest, were this a totally dry race he'd be in his usual 7th spot....unless he crashed out....again.

And as far as Lorenzo he once again acted like a little child.  I was watching and saw when he came into the pits.  He never once pointed to the front tire, acted like he was trying to tell them what was wrong, or heck even SPOKE to anyone!  He got off the bike with his lip sticking out as he pouted and stomped to the other bike while the rest of the crew is standing there staring at him and the team manager is screaming at him to get his @$$ back on the wet bike.  Maybe in his mind he has already checked out from Yamaha but to me that was disrespectful to his crew and his team.

Once again he proves if the bike is perfect there's probably no one faster in the world, but if there's a problem with the bike it gets in his head and he cannot ride around it.  GOOD LUCK AT DUCATI!

Total votes: 128

It's called dry humour!  Cal's a particularly good exponent of it which accounts for his popularity in the UK.  He's not bad at racing motorbikes either...

Total votes: 122

"Crutchlow is over rated"
"Crutchlow's mouth writes cheques his talent can't cash"
"He's a whiner, horrible complaining attitude w too many excuses"
So on, so forth. Where are you folks now?

 

 

Oh I'm right here  :).  He's still a complainer and a whiner and again I'll say it, were this a dry race he wouldn't have stood a chance.  It's easy to go out there and let it all out when you don't have anything to lose.

 

Qatar - DNF -crashed out

Argentina - DNF - crashed out

Texas  - 16th

Spain - 11th

France -DNF -crashed out

Italy - 11th

Catalunya - 6th

ASSEN - DNF -crashed out

Germany - 2 - again, in the wet

Austria - 15

Total votes: 128

What a very distasteful and bitter comment.

Cal just won a race, he's had numerous podiums, we've just had our 6th winner in 6 races.

Total votes: 130

so lorenzo only partially shredded his front tyre and then he decided to swap his bike after only less than a lap after setting fastest lap? or he just cover up his poor judgement of track condition?

his statement is a bit weird for me..

Total votes: 106

"only partially shredded"

Seriously? A big chunk of rubber was missing from the tyre, what else are you supposed to do but stop.

Total votes: 110

Just do 'an Iannone' and risk your own safety and the safety of your fellow competitors.

Have you seen the state of his (Iannone's) front tyre? Was he brave or stupid to continue?

Could it explode with Petrucci and Vinales following close behind? Who knows? 

Lorenzo (like Dovizioso) did the right thing on these defective tyres. Safety first.

Total votes: 109

Could it explode with Petrucci and Vinales following close behind?

The answer is no. The carcass of the tire still has a lot of rubber left on it, and was in no danger of exploding. The tread is not cut down to the cords, but to a given depth. Iannone managed a 2'16.9 and a 2'17.9 on that front tire, or around six seconds off the pace of the front runners. The tire had plenty of structural integrity left, it just had no more tread. 

Total votes: 104

One benefit to the amount of wet races for Vale and Jorge will be that the engine allocation might last the season due to less wear on their engines.

A great win by Cal and phenomenal rides from Rossi, Marquez, and the three Dukes folowing them!

Total votes: 85

Yeh you know when a rider turns on auto pilot when they will win the championship by just finishing, marquez is already in this mode. BUT I dont think he used skill to come third it was a consequence of him being in driving miss daisy mode. No matter what the weather would have been like be it rain or shine, he still would of just cruised to 4th regardless. Because he has no desire to go hard for the win, he benifitted from a secondary consequnce of his tires probably being better preserved because of this crusing attitude and unlike him, the people "racing" went hard at the start and then their tyre degragation was exponentially worse at the end.... as you could see with front tyres like ianonnes. Marquez's tyres drop off was probably more linear as he rode the same intensity from the first lap till the last. Rossi and crutchlow couldnt even push at the start even if they wanted to, hence why their rear rubber was exponentially great towards the end..

Total votes: 132

Desire has nothing to do with it. The only way he will lose this Championship is to DNF a time or two. He has no desire to lose the Championship, nor should he. MM is showing the brains and maturity which was lacking in his first years. He remains incredibly lucky with some of his Practice saves, and he seems to escape injury repeatedly when he does fall. But his exceptional ability cannot be denied, and has now been joined by the wisdom he was formerly lacking. I believe his ill advised (and incredibly poor sportsmanship) in involving himself in the Title Chase last year were crucial in his off season willingness to listen and learn to those who might know better. Respect is due him. I have never, and will not wish injury to him or any other rider, but a mechanical failure or two would not be unwelcomed by this Rossi fan. But with or without it, my respect for MM is now complete . 

Total votes: 112

How much would it cost to install Marquez' autopilot on my bike?  The one that in Free Practice picked him back off the pavement after the front wheel completely left the ground and the bike was leaned over at something like 68 degrees.  The one that set the fasted qualifying lap ever at a circuit that's been around since something like 1987.

Maybe he's being more cautious in the races after some hard learned lessons last year, but I'd say he's still pushing it a bit.  I find it hard to accuse anyone standing on a MotoGP podium at the end of the race  of being in "driving miss daisy" mode. Maybe I'm just too easy on these guys :)

Total votes: 108

Another fantastic article. Well written, punctuated with great and interesting facts. 

Always a pleasure to read. 

 

Total votes: 93

That was a very dramatic race. I ended up mostly watching the lap timing once I knew who was running what tires. It was fascinationg to see Cal and Vale immediately 2-3 seconds slower for a few laps, then suddenly on pace, and then showing red sections the next lap! Soon they were 3 seconds faster than everybody. Cal was particularly impressive. Like Wow! When Vale slowed at the end, you knew he was trying to make his soft front tire last to the end. I am not a fan of the announcing crew, but Dillon and his partners did a great job informing us of the various tire choices and that led to my understanding of the drama as it unfolded. Those trackside would have to wait to read motomatters.com to find out what happened! Great round-up article. Thanks!

Total votes: 85

For me, it's pretty clear that Michelin have some serious issues with tyre quality control.

Dovizioso's qualifying was ruined by tyre problems and his race came to an end before half distance when his front tyre suddenly fell apart. Both Iannone and Redding had lapped faster than Dovizioso, but it was Dovizioso who suffered tyre failure.

Rossi lapped way faster than Lorenzo on the same tyres, but it was Lorenzo who suffered tyre failure.

Michelin say the soft front failures were due to the tyres not being intended for use on a drying track, but fail to explain why two riders using the soft front finished on the podium.

Without intention, Michelin turned this race into nothing more than an exciting lottery.

Pleased for Crutchlow - he gambled like everyone else, and luckily, it payed-off.

A far cry from Austria for Crutchlow, but yet another Michelin disaster for Dovizioso - this, in his 250th straight GP race. Dovizioso and Rossi are more experienced than most - both chose the soft front. One finished second, while the other suffered tyre failure before half-way.  

Six different winners in six races - says more about the tyres than the riders.

Total votes: 117

I disagree completely. Michelin have come into this series from ground zero. They are responding on a race by race basis and doing so promptly and with remarkable success. The outright lap record at Brno was just set on Michelins and they are just over halfway through their first season. The riders chose to run softs which were not recomended by Michelin. Ask the rider who ran the recomended tyres what he thinks of their performance. If you want full wet soft tyres that can last full race distance on a drying track then you sacrifice performance in full wet conditions. Then the complaints will be that Michelin full wets don't offer enough grip. This company deserves our support for supporting the racing that we love.

Total votes: 114

The issue was not quality control. The issue was that the teams chose to race tires which were designed for fully wet conditions in conditions where the track was drying. They could have chosen the tires which were ideally suited to the conditions: the hard wets. They did not. They chose the soft wets. That proved to be almost as big a mistake as choosing intermediates.

The difference in tire life has everything to do with riding style, set up, and how hard riders went from the start of the session. Those who pushed early, suffered early. 

Total votes: 103

So many other potential factors at work here than just lap times. Different riding styles, different lines, different bikes, different setups. Way too easy to just say "VR's tire didn't come apart and JL's did; thus it was all Michelin's fault."

Total votes: 85

I don't post simplistic. 

My comment can easily be backed-up with pure fact.

I'll simply the post - just for you. There's two winged Yamahas with two top riders. One is hot in the wet and goes fast. One is timid in the wet and goes slow. Who gets the tyre problems?

Think about that.

 

Total votes: 121

... as a predominantly wider track, Brno offers multiple lines through corners. In a wet race on a track with multiple racing lines (as evidenced by a dry line not developing), there are ample opportunities for allowing a wearing tire to cool by utilizing wetter areas of the track surface.

More nuanced thinking would give credit to rider patience, experience and intelligence, rather than to an outright claim of manufacturer negligence/quality control.

 

Total votes: 103

That, and also this being the first wet race held here, the teams probably had no idea of what the track was like drainage wise, and any previous experience with the track drying. Normal thinking would have been a dry line opening up as the rain had ceased, but now they know for next time, Brno isn't the fastest drying track, maybe use the hard option.

We have....
New tyres
New winglets
New electronics
New track conditions.

It would be amazing to see a perfect result out of a setup like that...

Total votes: 70

Perhaps David it would be a good time, if you have the time and resources to do an article, or get someone to do an article, on how race tyres are made.

Many years ago, I used to work for a Japanese race tyre company and back then the carcass was made first. Carcasses are important for a few reasons, first and most important is the carcass supports the tread which mostly is a slick tread but in this case is a wet patterned tread.

The carcass determines the tread shape, footprint size and controls distortion (, in conjunction with air pressure) and gives the rider feel. The other very important aspect which is either not openly revealed or understood is the carcass controls or supports heat lose or retention through the side walls and into the wheel. The compound works in conjunction with the carcass.

It used to be that once a carcass is made the tread was applied, either as a separate piece or applied like to toothpaste to the carcass to give dual compounds and then moulded to the carcass in a rather hot round press. The tread (slick or wet) is a complex mix of chemicals which all tyre companies spend time money and expertise to develop.  Theylook for new materials  e.g. silica to give them that compound edge and they protect compound information as proprietary information. The blend is what I would consider to be the black art of tyres and is the domain of the individual tyre manufactueres science and chemical engineers.

Anyway without going on, the thing is that the under belt (carcass), which the wet compound is moulded to, is quite often thicker (depending on the manufacturer) than ordinary slicks carcasses to help with heat retention.  So for example, the exact same compound blend can be used on two different carcasses, one that retains more heat and the other that loses heat and each one could be called either a soft full wet and the other a hard full wet. This works because one tyre retains the heat and the other dissipates the heat. Thus in the race on the weekend, the bikes generating heat through load exceeded the tyres heat limits and delaminated that section of tyre from the carcass while the riders or bikes that didn’t load the tyre as much or cooled the tyres did not. Conversely, the “hard” tyres carcass disappates the heat more easily to the track and ambient and also take longer to heat and needed a drier track to maintain the heat to make the compound blend to work. (heat range)

Anyway, I don’t know what carcass construction the wet Michelins were and how they related to each other (hard to soft) nor do I know the compounding characteristics of each blend. For all I know, the same carcass design was used but a different compound blend was used on each hard or soft. I do know that from experience that Michelin have traditionally had quite soft sidewall construction but extremely good under belt footprint control and shape. This gives very good grip but takes getting used to from a “different” feel perspective as compared to the Bridgestones. Anyway, from an old bloke’s point of view the delamination of the centre tread is not a quality issue but a heat and load issue, either from the excess heat build up in the carcass or the compound blend exceeding its limits. It's not quality control but heat control and blend characteristics.

Better to ask whether the “wings” increased front end load? Or weight distribution? Or braking load? one of these factors was the cause.

I don't expect that the tyre manufacturers will tell everyone exactly what carcass design they used on the weekend and what the compound blends used were but at some stage an over view of how carcass and compound s work together and how load, ambient and track temps work in relation to each other. This might help reduce questions of quality and lead to a better understanding of the complexities that tyre negineers and technicains face with heat, load and grip on modern MotoGP bikes at different circuits with quite varying ambiant and track temps, ashalt mix pebble sizes and load.

Total votes: 107

Thank you for a detailed and expert explanation.

Total votes: 82

Terrific information, Tack. What I found most interesting was your explanation of how soft and hard wets can have exactly the same compound - it goes totally against what layman's logic would suggest, but now I understand why.

Total votes: 72

Very interesting but it doesn't explain anything.

It doesn't explain why Dovi's tyre failed before half distance and why Lorenzo's tyre failed just after half distance. It doesn't explain why Iannone's tyre nearly lasted and why Rossi's did.

Riding style? Set-up? Wings? Going too hard? All complete and utter nonsense. 

The problem was a Michelin manufacturing fault. It's plain for all to see. 

Total votes: 91

Well I do understand Frank that with all the anomalies that occurred with tyres and different riders and bikes in that race would make it appear that quality control is an issue. In the article that David has kindly, and at some cost to himself, posted up of an interview with riders and teams about the tyres in this race it is clear that opinions and understanding vary quite a deal. I believe that this variation of opinion is quite normal in a race paddock. Everyone’s individual experience will be different and the results and outcomes vary due to the innumerable variations in bikes, riders and setups.  This is what makes nailing down a conclusion very difficult. This is what makes the tyre engineers and technicians job so difficult and what makes supplying a control tyre to such vastly differing bikes and riders so difficult.

The basic fact is that trying to supply a control tyre to such a diverse range of riders and bikes for many varying tracks and ambient temperatures is not easy at all. Ideally each rider and bike should get their own individual tyre that suits them but that’s just not practical at all either practically or cost wise. It would be also tempting to just give the field one hard tyre and tell them all to “deal with it”. Gee, wouldn’t they sook about that.  But Michelin hasn’t, in the interests of competition and spectacle and entertainment and ever improving lap times Michelin has taken the difficult option of developing tyres to appease the teams and riders and fans as best they can.

At this point I must say, I do not work for Michelin and have no affiliation with them except that some teams I have worked for have used them.  I just don’t believe that quality control was an issue in this race.

That’s not to say that occasionally a tyre is not moulded properly or there is a misplaced belt that causes a vibration.  What you do see is delamination’s when the compound heat limits are exceeded.  You will see that this exact same scenario appear whenever a race is wet and wet tyres are used and it dries. It’s nothing new. However, tyres exceeding their compound limits and either blistering or delaminating is not new either. High load, long duration corners with a small pebble hot mix and high track and ambient temps such as Philip Island circuit will show you this. So, in a race where the track is drying and a soft full wet is used, what would you logically expect to happen!

If quality control were an issue I would expect that we would hear from either David or some riders who speak their mind that there is an issue with it. I have to say that tyre manufacturers are absolutely paranoid about quality control in race tyres.  For Michelin or any other tyre manufacturer supplying tyres is a commercial exercise.  It’s about showcasing their tyres and brand, the prestige of being in MotoGP, associations with celebrity riders and the expectation of selling tyres.  The last thing they want is quality control issues and they will prevent that at any cost because of the damage it does to the brand. However, what they can’t do is control how the tracks, riders and conditions abuse their tyres when they are trying to deliver something that runs at its limits.

What we did see is the genius or pure ability of some riders or the luck of those who choose right. You have to hand it to Valentino Rossi.  Read what he said in David’s post-race tyre article. The guy was right on the money with how he managed his tyres. He didn’t choose right like Crutchlow but he did a fantastic job of being a genuinely great rider who understands his craft extremely well. That’s what you have to admire about the bloke, like him or not. That’s what all these other riders who say they don’t understand what’s going, no matter how good you think they are or they think they are, that’s what they need to aspire to. Maybe if you understand this you will read some riders comments again and interpreted things differently.

Total votes: 92

Maybe, if you watched the race and read the rider's comments, you would understand that they had a choice of a 'wet' tyre that would work in the wet, and a 'wet' tyre that would work on a drying track.

Michelin's advice? If it rains, you use the soft. If it stops raining you use the hard - don't use the soft because it's on the limit.

The result? Crutchlow won using the hard, but the next two podium finishers used the soft - one of which, Marc Marquez, admits to only using a the dry line for a late charge over the last four laps.

You can try to cut this anyway you please, but when one rider who is not reknowned for being smooth or gentle on his tyres and who relies heavily on braking, rides hard for four laps - on a dry line - at the end of a race - to finish third - while other, smoother riders have suffered 'abnormal wear' long before, raises question marks. Particularly when said rider's tyre shows nothing more than slight graining - when others same front tyres are in bits.

It's not about Rossi. Sure he did a brilliant job, but he too rode the same soft front that Michelin said was on the limit. He finished a strong second. He was one of only three riders to dip into the 2'08's. That was more luck than judgement. Why? Because he couldn't use the Michelin soft rear for more than 5 laps - he had no choice but to use the hard rear, so why not the hard front?

The fact of the matter is that only 3 of the 21 man grid chose the hard front.

Why? Because no-one had had experience of using them. How are you going to race on a tyre that you have no knowledge of?

No knowledge? The warm-up was held in full wet conditions, and Michelin said that only the soft wet was suitable in such conditions, so no-one had any knowledge of the hard tyre.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Total votes: 77

An expert who has direct experience of both tire manufacturing and handling tires in a race team gives his knowledgeable opinion but you choose to ignore it. You are entitled to dismiss the opinions of experts. Whether that is wise is another question.

Total votes: 85

Did anybody notice that most of the riders except Rossi were not even born when the last British Rider won!  And that Rossi was 2!

Total votes: 98

If there had been a consistency in soft front tyre drop off Rossi and Marquez would not have been finishing on the podium. Instead of searching for all sorts of scientific reasons i am more convinced it much comes down to the riding style and bike set-up resulting in more or less tyre conservation.

Total votes: 91

Appreciate they had critical tyre woes but I thought both Dovi and Lorenzo reacted badly under (admittedly huge) pressure compared to the other riders.  Both were comprehensively out-played by their respective team mates (even though they might both justifiably claim to have had a front tyre that disintegrated quicker.)   Neither seemed keen to rejoin the fray when a calm head was most needed e.g. to get the tyre choice right on the second bike. Doesn't bode too well for the Ducati factory team for next season in any wet or flag to flag race.

 

Total votes: 102

If you watched and understood the race, you'd of seen that both Lorenzo and Dovizioso suffered tyre random failure.

Lorenzo's second bike was kitted-out on dry settings and slicks. Useless.

Dovizioso's second bike was kitted-out on intermediates. Useless.

At the end of the day, guesswork won. The race was a lottery. 

Total votes: 115

The race was in no way shape or form a lottery. Iannone switched to soft wets on the grid catalyzing several others to follow suit. Cal on the other hand decided on hard and then decided not to switch to soft as those around him were. He made TWO decisions re: his tire choice, that my friend is no gamble. 

Evidently he was one of the few who didn't think the track would dry out.

Lorenzo and Dovi did not suffer 'random' tire failure, the failures were results of choices they made in terms of riding, Dovi admitted so himself, "I tried to save the rear and ended up stressing the front" and Lorenzo would have likely won should he have gone H and H. 

Total votes: 107

What a strange and crazy and entertaining race that was. Unfortunately i watched it on my smartphone once I knew the results...so less entertaining. I agree and also disagree with some of the posts.
Cal did an amazing race! OK he is not an Alien but what he lacks in skill he compensates with sheer ballsy riding. He is a nutter and has a great sense of humor. I think everybody was really happy for him (and I'm certain that VR was very spontaneous in parc ferme when he just grabbed him to congratulate him).
I only saw Valentino italian interview funny and true as usual. He deserved this turn of events.
Now to Lorenzo: David though I loved your report there are things unclear about JL. I mean from the little I saw on my small screen and the accounts I read I feel some is missing. That moment when Forcada is almost grabbing him by the arm is unreal... I remember well that JL had no pbm at dramatically pointing at his helmet last year in Silverstone for every camera on earth to see and here he can't even point out that his tire has a pbm? Really??? And some else bothers me and I would like to understand and hear more about it....: once all is lost for him behind almost 2 laps does he really need to overtake MM and VR? Are we sure they knew he was out? Specifically for VR they had the same tires he could have well thought that JL too was improving the pace and trying something.... can someone explain why he did it? I bet that in reversed roles he might have asked to punish VR on the basis that he could have jeopardize his race for an unnecessary reason.
Last but not least Iannone: I think that we'll see more of him until the rest of the season. That win has changed him....
Oh I almost forgot....: MM. You know the new nickname in Italy? The Flying Accountant. I wouldn't call this a great race from him.... without the Ducati pbm in the final laps he would have finished 7th and rightly so. So we shouldn't read too much in his race. No tactics no brilliant moves.... he did his job being very conservative and got lucky. This does not mean that in any other given situation he wouldn't be the MM we know: an amazing racer. But not the other day in Brno

Total votes: 109

And he was clever about it...deliberately going offline to cool the tires instead of going gung-ho like the Ducatis.
He also took it easy on the tires knowing that the track wont dry enough for flag to flag. 
Considering that he had nothe soft front and rear it was remarkable for him to end up in the podium.
Also we have seen how quick those Ducatis are in the wet and how much the Hondas are struggling this year.
"No tactics no brilliant moves" is a tad disrespecting.

Total votes: 84

I think it was completely within Lorenzo's right to try to pass Rossi and Marquez after he rejoined the race, even though he was a lap or two down.  His pace at that point was considerably faster and it wasn't like he was doing it in the last lap while the others were fighting for podium spots.  His passes were clean, he didn't interfere with their results in the least, and it's the job of the pit crew to use their board to let riders know if they need to be concerned about the position of other riders on the track.  I see no issue here.  

Total votes: 97

Cal's speed and talent were never in question, or maybe they were after al the crashes, but yesterday's result reaffirms that the aliens aren't the only riders capable of inspired choices and brilliant riding. Which is great for MotoGP itself to have a more diverse field of winners after years of rewriting and adapting the rules to keep manufacturers and independents in the game.

Congrats Cal. Cheers.

Total votes: 88

Ha, good point.  I noticed that they shook hands again yesterday, but I don't think the commentators even said a word about it.  Nothing like a topsy turvy race to make us focus back on the track.  

Total votes: 84

Brilliant work by Cal Crutchlow. Congratulatons on an outstanding ride and outstanding Choice of tires.

I better understand what happened to Lorenzo after reading this article. It's Amazing how some commentors could see Lorenzo's 'pouting lips' when he swapped bikes. 

Fact is there's only three factory riders that can win a Motogp race. Both Yamahas, one Honda and if you put them both together as on......a Ducati rider. The other have NO, NONE, ZERO chance of winning a Motogp bike race Unless weather plays a hand in it to level the playing field. Then you can see there's lots of potential riders that are not on factory bikes that are as good as or better than the factory riders. One of which is Cal Crutchlow and throw in Hector Barbera and a few more. 

Look what happens when an Alien rides a less than perfect bike like that Ducati that was winning races prior to his getting the ride for Ducati. Pure haplessness and mediocrity. So some posters need to get over thinking their 'alien' is exceptional. He's/they're not that much better if better at all.

Total votes: 86

how long before we had 6 different winners on one season? Is it the tyres , the ECU's or did the mothership UFO left earth?

Total votes: 86