2017 Brno MotoGP Sunday Round Up: The Logistics Of Flag-to-Flag, and Exploiting Opportunity

Flag-to-flag races. You either love them or hate them. For some, flag-to-flag racing adds an extra dimension to MotoGP, rewarding teams and riders who are smart with their strategy selection, bringing much greater rewards for those who are prepared to take calculated risks, while also carrying a much greater punishment if you risk too much. It is not enough to get the setup right for the conditions, teams also have to assess how conditions might change, and riders have to judge the optimum time to come in and swap bikes. It places a greater emphasis on teamwork, rather than just the rider.

For others, however, flag-to-flag races are just a lottery, the outcome decided largely by chance. Victory goes not necessarily to the fastest rider on the track, but to the one who gambles correctly on the right tire, the right time to pit, on how the weather develops. The team has too much influence on the outcome, relegating the rider to a secondary role. It isn't the fastest rider who wins the race, it is the luckiest rider.

Unsurprisingly, there is often a correlation between how you feel about flag-to-flag racing and how your favorite rider performs in those conditions. My favorite rider is a master strategist, backed by a canny team. Your favorite rider is a lucky devil who fell face first into a bucket full of horseshoes, and wouldn't have won if it hadn't been for the team doing all the hard work and telling them exactly what to do and when to do it.

You can't always get what you want

After the MotoGP race in Brno, there were plenty of fans bemoaning the fact that they had been deprived of what looked like being an epic battle. After qualifying, it looked there were five or six riders all on the same pace, and all capable of winning. If it had remained dry during the warm up, the teams could have made the last few adjustments to prepare for the coming race, and made the field even more competitive. That would have yielded a thrilling race, full of heroic escapades and derring-do.

Instead, with the race starting wet but drying out very rapidly, Marc Márquez had effectively secured victory within the space of a two-lap period. The battle for the lead was brief, Valentino Rossi chasing down Jorge Lorenzo in the early laps, before Márquez' early dive into the pits for slicks sealed the win for the Repsol Honda rider. There were battles here and there throughout the field, but they were often settled quickly and decisively. It was not a nail-biting knock-down, drag-out battle from start to finish.

While the results may not appear thrilling on paper, how those results came about offer a wealth of fascinating stories, a rich and complex cocktail of choices, gambles, and decisions which affected the outcome. The normal set of decisions riders and teams make in setting up a bike are magnified, expanded out, and made much clearer and easier to comprehend.

A rich tapestry

So how did Marc Márquez win the race at Brno, and extend his lead in the championship? There were a lot of factors which came into play. Some of those were misjudgments which just happened to play out well, such as the Repsol Honda rider choosing to start with the soft wet tires, rather than the mediums favored by everyone else, which quickly overheated and forced him into the pits to change bikes early. Some were clever choices based on empirical data, such as having his second bike in dry trim, rather than in the identical wet setup favored by many other riders, which allowed him to come into the pits to change bikes early. And some were down to sheer talent, the ability to manage a bike in the unpredictable and sketchy grip offered by a rapidly drying track, which allowed him to pull out a 15-second advantage in around two laps.

If you had to nominate one factor which was the key to it all, it would be Márquez and his team's decision to have the spare bike already in dry trim at the start of the race. Under normal conditions, each rider has their second bike set up to be as identical as possible to the number one bike which they are starting the race on.

Flag-to-flag races are a good deal more complex. An hour before the race starts, when they have their pre-race meeting, the teams have to take an educated guess at what the weather will do. They have to judge how wet the track will be at the start of the race, and how quickly it will dry once the race is underway.

Based on these guesses, they have to decide a strategy. Do they keep both bikes identical, so that if the rider crashes on the sighting lap or on the warm up lap, they can come back into the pits, jump on the spare bike, and try to get back where they started from? Or do they start the race with a wet bike and a dry bike, relying on the rider not to crash before the start, and allowing them to come in to swap bikes very shortly after the start?

Trust your team

It is these decisions which would prove decisive. Marc Márquez won the race because he elected to have a wet and a dry bike. Jonas Folger lost a good shot at a podium, because he came in to the pits very quickly, while his team was still changing the bike from wet to dry. Jorge Lorenzo's team misjudged where he was on the track, sending the message to pit too early, meaning he came in before his second bike had been switched to a dry setup. Andrea Dovizioso had to stay out for too long while his team swapped the spare bike to a dry setting, losing valuable time to the leaders while the medium wet tires were ten seconds a lap slower than slicks.

There were other choices which proved fatal to riders' chances. In addition to staying out too late, for example, Ducati decided to put soft slicks on the front and rear of Dovizioso's GP17, a choice which would prove to be the wrong one for the rapidly drying track. Aleix Espargaro had elected to start the race on his new Aprilia RS-GP with the more powerful engine, believing the track would remain wet for most of the race, and he would have enough in hand to battle for a strong finish.

Valentino Rossi would choose to stay out too long, trying to make up ground on wet tires in tricky conditions where he believed he was fastest. Cal Crutchlow decided to follow Dani Pedrosa into the pits rather than Marc Márquez, believing that Pedrosa had better pace at Brno than Márquez.

It is this rich tapestry of stories which makes a flag-to-flag race so fascinating. There are ten times as many opportunities to make a difference to winning the race, but there are also ten times as many potential pitfalls which could see you out of the race. The potential for rewards is high, but then so are the risks.

History doesn't repeat itself

The race here last year also factored into the decisions made by the teams. By the time the riders finished the sighting lap, the rain had more or less stopped, and dry lines were starting to form at the bottom part of the track around Turn 10. But the front straight was still fully wet, as was the upper half of the track. In 2016, the track had been tremendously slow to dry out, making the medium wet tire the perfect (and winning) choice for the track. Those who chose soft tires chewed their tires up too quickly, especially at the front. Those who switched to slicks soon repented of that choice, coming back into the pits for another set of wet tires.

The teams had seen the Moto3 race earlier in the day, which had also started on a damp track with barely any rain, yet had remained wet for most of the race. A rain shower during Moto2 had caused it to be stopped and restarted, the track still damp. Based on last year's data and what they had seen with the support classes, MotoGP engineers decided that the smart bet was that the track would remain wet for a significant part of the race.

"I was surprised how quick the track dried up this time because normally it would take much longer," Dani Pedrosa said in the press conference. Andrea Dovizioso had said the same earlier. "This track becomes dry very slow. Last year in the race it showed this. Friday, it was like this. In Moto3 today it was like this." But when the sun came out just before the race started, the track started drying very quickly.

Risk management

It is here where Marc Márquez won the race. Deciding to start on the soft wets may have been a mistake, but the Spaniard quickly made a virtue of that vice. "My plan was try to push a lot in the first four or five laps and then go in, because I saw that start to be dry," Márquez said. "But honestly, was the incorrect decision because the rear tire was spinning too much. Was too soft and I was losing many, many positions."

Coming in at the end of the second lap for slicks proved to be the winning move. But it is a move perhaps only Márquez could have made quite so successfully. Márquez' exceptional feel and ability to teeter on the brink of grip was demonstrated during qualifying, where he appeared to average a little over one outrageous front-end save per lap. He has honed his cat-like reflexes to a fine point riding dirt track, playing with grip in unpredictable conditions. So he comes into his own on slicks on a drying track.

"Today I felt like I want to take a risk," Márquez said. "I want to push. I take a risk to try to win the race. When I went out with the slick tires was still very, very wet. I nearly crashed three or four times in the first lap especially. Then I cool down a little bit. I start to warm the tires well."

Jorge Lorenzo backed up Márquez' assessment of himself: "Marc is honestly very good to go quick suddenly when he switches from wet tires to dry tires, he's the best one in those conditions, he's very aggressive and he warms up the tires very quickly. I'm not the best one at that." That means that when he rides, it is not just that he is willing to take risks, he is also capable of managing them. "This is one of the positive things of Marc," Dovizioso explained. "He’s able to manage. It’s not just about taking a risk. Nobody wins from taking a risk. It’s about managing all the things."

Márquez managed that risk perfectly. He had dropped back from second at the end of the first lap as his soft wet rear began to spin, diving into the pits at the end of lap 2. He was out of the pits on lap 3, and ten seconds a lap quicker than the leaders on laps 4 and 5. At the end of lap 7, by which time most people had already swapped to their dry bikes, Márquez led by 19 seconds. The race had long been over.

The right time and the wrong time

Before the race, Márquez' Repsol Honda teammate had been widely tipped as the man to beat. But a hesitancy on the part of Dani Pedrosa cost him the chance of battling for the win. "I was surprised how quick the track dried up this time because normally it would take much longer," Pedrosa explained. "Then I was thinking about coming in and I decided just to pass one more time. Unfortunately, one lap too late, I guess, for having a more easy race in the slicks." Pedrosa gave himself some work to do to pass other riders because of this, but he still ended up second behind his teammate.

Brno ended up being a decent weekend for Maverick Viñales. After complaining of a lack of turning in the dry, the setup tweaks the team found on Saturday ended up working. Viñales probably came in a lap too late, like Pedrosa, but like Pedrosa, the Movistar Yamaha rider still made it to the podium. He had recovered some of the positive feelings with the Yamaha which had been missing. With a new chassis to test on Monday – reportedly bringing him back level with his teammate, who was using it this weekend – Viñales goes to Austria with some more confidence, at least.

Old dog, new tricks

Valentino Rossi once again found a way to lose a flag-to-flag race. As the veteran of the class, Rossi is perhaps the least well adapted to the format. Rossi grew up with restarted races and aggregate times, and is yet to master the art of finding the perfect time to come in and swap bikes. "For sure it’s not my stronger point, this type of racing," he told us late on Sunday afternoon.

Yet he was not unhappy. "At the end the result is not so bad," Rossi said. "We improve a lot from the other flag-to-flag. I finish fourth." Rossi was pleased with his pace both in the wet and in the dry, and saw that as a positive.

We were not to view this flag-to-flag as a carbon copy of the Sachsenring race last year, he complained. "It’s not like last year," Rossi said. "We agreed with my team to show ‘BOX’ and when I see ‘BOX’ I come back in."

Too fast for his own good

His problem was not so much one of timing, but rather one of position, Rossi explained. He is quick in the wet, and often finds himself leading a group as a result. That makes it hard to base his decision on when best to come into the pits on other riders. After all, they are behind him, rather than ahead of him, and he can't see whey they are pitting for new bikes. "I always have the problem in this condition that I’m first." Rossi explained. "A lot of riders are helped by being in the second group. One enters and everyone enters. The problem is I was a bit too strong in the wet. "

The bike was a little trickier to handle on a drying track on slicks, too, Rossi said. "Usually in the first lap with the slicks in the wet, we are a bit in trouble with the Yamaha." It all comes back to confidence, to an unyielding faith in the bike and the tires. Flag-to-flag races test both to breaking point.

Cal Crutchlow crossed the line in fifth, after failing to hold off Rossi on the final couple of laps. Crutchlow was irritated that he had put all his money on Pedrosa, he said. The Englishman believed that Pedrosa was the favorite before the race, and had decided to throw his hat in with the Repsol Honda rider. He would wait until Pedrosa pitted, and then pit to swap bikes himself. Afterward, he realized this had been the wrong strategy, the correct strategy being to follow the other Honda into the pits.

Crutchlow had given it consideration. When he passed Márquez on the second lap, he felt that the Spaniard had capitulated too easily. "I knew he was pitting because he never fought back!" Crutchlow joked. "That's not Marc's nature and then as we went into the last corner I looked across and I could see him. I thought 'you little....!' Because I knew he had out-foxed us again, the same as in Sachsenring last year."

Bologna stumbles

If the two factory Hondas and two factory Yamahas were doing so well in Brno, things were going far from swimmingly for Ducati. After the brilliant way in which they manipulated the aerodynamic rules to create a unique fairing, completely with a couple of wing-like structures, their strategy in flag-to-flag races was abysmal.

Andrea Dovizioso came away best. First, he and his team decided to start the race with two wet bikes, then swap the spare bike to a dry setup once the race was underway. But the change took too long, and Dovizioso was left circulating on wet tires for one lap too many. Then they had the bike set up wrong, with a soft rear and soft front tire, which didn't work on a drying track.

Dovizioso shouldered some of the blame for swapping bikes too late himself. "I stopped too late, first because the bike wasn’t ready, and second because I didn’t feel like I had to stop before," he said. "When you’re riding it’s very difficult to take a decision when the track still is half and half. Today it became dry very quick. Marc, like always, was almost over the limit but it worked."

Where the blame lies

If Dovizioso was relatively sanguine about the whole affair, Jorge Lorenzo was quietly livid. Though he did his best not to apportion blame on the team all too blatantly, it was obvious that he felt the blame lays squarely at the feet of his team. "I just wanted to make one or maximum two more laps before entering the pits, making a signal to the guys," Lorenzo said. "But just 3 corners before I entered the pits I received a signal on the dashboard, "Bike Change". So when I saw that, I entered the pits, understanding that the bike was ready."

Only it wasn't. The team had accidentally exposed a weakness with the system: if you send a message too early, then the rider might come in before you are ready. Ducati have been pioneers adopting the dashboard messages – which requires the latest version of the unified software on the spec Magneti Marelli ECU to function. The team used that system to send a message, presuming he would receive it as he crossed the line, giving themselves another couple of minutes to complete the work. But Lorenzo was still a few corners from the finish, and had time to enter the pits at the end of that self-same lap. There, he was forced to sit and wait while they finished up his bike.

Ready or not...

"Probably the team saw that Marc was so fast already, they decided to take the risk to put this signal already one lap before, so we wouldn't lose more seconds," Lorenzo said. "But their guess was that it would take 30 or 40 seconds to change the bike, but it wasn't enough, and my bike was not ready. When I entered I saw the team working on the bike, the suspension technician putting the right settings, and when I exited the bike felt a little bit strange, and they told me also that my setting was half dry, half wet. Which is why I couldn't go a little bit faster during these eighteen laps."

It was a shame for Lorenzo, for Brno was the first weekend the Spaniard had looked really comfortable on the bike. The addition of the aerodynamic package gave Lorenzo the confidence in the front end he so badly needed to brake and enter the corner a little better. The interior winglets helped keep the front wheel along the straight, making preparing for the corner a little easier. Lorenzo took that confidence and built on it to brake better and turn the bike in as he wanted.

"Today was the perfect day and situation to finally win a race with Ducati," Lorenzo said. "I don't think I'm exaggerating, I always say the truth, and today I felt that I could have this chance. The bike gave me so much confidence that in any conditions, on rain, with more water, with less water, I was really really quick. But we were unlucky that in these 40 minutes of MotoGP the track dried up."

It looks like Jorge Lorenzo has turned a corner at last on the Ducati. Only the next few races will reveal just how true that is.

Accidents waiting to happen

The Brno MotoGP race also aptly illustrated the downside to flag-to-flag races. At the end of lap 3, a gaggle of riders entered the pits. Andrea Iannone entered towards the rear of the group, while Aleix Espargaro had been on of the first to enter. Espargaro was released directly into the path of Iannone, and the unfortunate Italian was forced to brake too hard, wiping out his front. Iannone was unhurt, but he was understandably furious.

Espargaro was suitably contrite. The blame lay with his team, he acknowledged. One of the three mechanics who are allowed to work on the bike in pit lane is supposed to ensure the safe release of the bike and rider. That mechanic did not, and down Iannone went. Espargaro was penalized and forced to drop three places, a harsh but fair penalty.

Afterwards, Espargaro explained the collision, and said that the flag-to-flag rules were a constant source of discussion in the Safety Commission. Dani Pedrosa had been advocating for World Superbike rules, where riders are held in pit lane for a fixed time, and Espargaro was impressed by the idea.

Of course, it is not up to Espargaro to be in favor of it. Such proposals must be approved by Dorna and IRTA. We shall see if they pick up this gauntlet or not.


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Total votes: 54
Total votes: 106

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Comments

That's a silly explanation. If Rossi suffers from leading the pack, all he has to do is pace himself and let someone else lead. Heck, he spent years doing exactly that, waiting and baiting his rivals before snatching victories from their hands. Ask Gibernau. Rossi should be able to do it again, especially with the luxury of knowing no flag to flag race is won on the first bike.

In a slightly related issue, I'm convinced the lingering animosity towards flag to flag races is simply due to Rossi never winning one. As soon as he does it, I'm sure the criticism will be replaced by declamations of his speed and tactical genious. That's what hapens everytime he wins a tricky damp (Assen 2017) or full wet race (Silverstone 2015). Nobody ever said those races were gambles decided by set ups and misfortune.

All in all it was still a great race and has made this season only more interesting. All of a sudden, Marquez has a small but valuable cushion while Vinales has twice salvaged strong results after tough weekends and poor qualifying. Lorenzo suffered from his teams tactics but showed the most speed and fighting spirit so far this season. He might just find the form to constantly fight for the podium and intefere with the title battle.

I have no idea what will happen from now on. Normally I'd expect Dovi to simply fade and slide away (as he has done since Barcelona) while the Repsols and Yamahas run away, but there is the possibility Ducati's fairing might be a game changer. And what if Vinales finds that early season speed again? Who knows?

Total votes: 73

The weather spoiled a highly awaited race but it is what it is. Marquez the clever winner or the lucky winner, i have a hard time making up my mind.

Total votes: 52

since for a couple of laps he had to keep from crashing on cold slicks on a track that was still quite wet.

Total votes: 44

Still looking for an answer, so I'll pose the question again:

I'm a BIG fan of "The Old Man", but exactly WHAT has happened to Rossi's ability to either:

1) figure out when to change tires, or
2) read the pit board, or
3) pay the crew enough so that they'll try harder to communicate with him (I don't know if this was the case, but I'm randomly and befuddled-ly taking guesses) via pit board or the new messaging system on the bike?

He used to be reasonably adept at it, but now, according to my quickest memory:

1) Misano - ALMOST certain victory
2) Sachsenring - a possible podium
3) TODAY - VERY possible victory
4) Assen - slightly different, but VIRTUALLY certain victory in heavy rain, but for terrible communication from pits to Rossi

I know that he changed to slicks a lap too early back at Le Mans a few years back, and it bit him in the butt, BUT that was LONG ago. So what happened? Does he still regret that decision? Things like this are where championships are won and lost!

Anyone know? I'm still all ears.

BTW, Marc was amazing in his strategy and his willingness to risk it all. He wasn't necessarilythe fastest, but he was absolutely THE best today. All credit to him.

Total votes: 50

Great writeup as ever.
Glad you're calling the events as I perceived them... Nick Harris kept reiterating the soft tire choice of MM93 was a "masterstroke". I don't think it was, coming in early was, the choice of tires was a misjudgement. He could've done the same strategy on medium wets.
And again: VR46 & team too late to come in, a pitty but that's racing.

typo?
Espargaro was released directly into the path of Iannone, and the unfortunate Italian was forced to break too hard, wiping out his front. Iannone was unhurt, but he was understandably furious.

Total votes: 47

Marc has been saved the second time in Brno after Misano where he was forced to pit as he did not have the right feeling on a drying track, only to pick up his slicks to slaughter the opposition without mercy. He was 20 seconds ahead and still putting in fast laps without letting complacency taking the better of him.

Atlast Vale has proved his worth again when it comes to the chassis. He rode an excellent race to finish 4th. 

We as audience were denied a good race long battle, I hoped for the race decision to stop and restart the race after seeing the dry lines in the WUP lap. There was a clear dry line appearing, cause there is no point in riders coming in the second lap to change bikes, its just 4 mins into the race.

I think the race direction needs to step up... 

Total votes: 70

I still too vividly remember those races in changeable conditions that were delayed, started, stopped, delayed, shortened, re-started with aggregate times, stopped again, etc etc.  They used to quite often over-run the satellite time slot and you'd not see the race at all.  In this case it's easy to say it could have been delayed 10 minutes and run fully dry but that was only obvious with the benefit of hindsight.  It could just as easily have tipped it down again. 
No thanks, I for one like the flag to flag race format.

Total votes: 63

I remember even the commentators pointing out the dry line during the warm up lap, for sure the safety cars could have and would have seen the dry lines also I am sure race direction will have all the data from the flag bearers and camera. We have great legends and riders in the rae Direction and we know how their reflexes and sense of decision (i.e. quick) will be, so its not just hindsight. It would have been such a race with so many riders on the same pace. I even saw Foldger posting fastest laps at some point. 

But end of the day sometimes Shit happens in life :)

Cheers!!!!!!!!!

 

Total votes: 43

Some might say he turned a bad tyre choice into an unlikely victory.

Others would argue that he was plain lucky.

The truth is that Marquez is current, and both he, and HRC, stayed up-to-date with the changing climatic conditions. Both Marquez and HRC knew this race was going to be dry.

If the track couldn't take a soft wet, then it was time for slicks. There was no other choice.

In Moto3, air temp was 19 degees. The ground temp was 21 degrees. Humidity was 89%.

In Moto2, air temp was 20 degrees. The ground temp was 22 degrees. Humidity was 80%.

In MotoGP, air temp was 21 degrees, The ground temp was 24 degrees, Humidity was 70%.

The figures show this was only going one way - warmer with an ever decreasing chance of rain.

Marquez and HRC knew it because they stayed current and up to date. Others didn't.

Total votes: 57

Key data point here is barometric pressure... higher barometric pressure equates to less chance of rain, so if that were increasing figuring things would dry out was a decent guess.

Total votes: 39

Thanks for the great write-up, as ever - typos or not!  

We fans love to see the riders' late braking 

For us, it's excitement making

But if they go too far

And the grip is below par

This often results in something breaking

.....I'll get my coat now.

Sympathy and understanding to those who have had to learn English as a second language!

Total votes: 52

I think the choices of everyone where quite predictable given the strenght and weaknesses of the riders and bikes involved and last but not least how the weatherconditions turned out.

Only the combination Marquez and Honda are capable to go that early on slicks on a damp track. Marquez just chose for setting up the bike for dry conditions to exploit his strengths completely. And that turned out to be the winning strike. If he had chosen the safest option like everyone does he knew he would not be competitive in the end. He said he crashed almost 4 times the first lap. If he said so, that should be taken seriously. So the masterstroke (He was helped by a poor tyrechoice, so there was nothing left to lose ) could easily end up with being rated as silly. 

The Yamaha riders did also make the right choice in my opinion. The bike is least suitable for heating the tyres and on a damp track, so the risk of putting slicks to early was a no go.

To me it feels like a wasted race since the only real unpredictable things were

- how the weather turned out

- if Maquez would not crash in the first laps on slicks

- which choices everyone would be made for the second bike (wet, halve wet or dry set up)

I like the commotion though, since otherwise a dry race could just be like summing up the laptimes.

 

Total votes: 50

THks for this perfect Round-up David. 

I can't believe how unlucky was Jonas Folger during the Week-End. He had definitely a very strong pace and he could compete for a podium here in Brno. Instead of this possible glory , what Happened ? Baz took his tow in FP3 and stole the 10th slot from Jonas... in Q1, The German Rider was fooled by his dashboard and topped the timesheet... unfortunately 2s too late. During the Race, He did a fantastic start and was smart enough to pit exactly with Marc Marquez and... the team wasn't ready.  Definitely a pity.

Kudos to Pol Esparagaro and KTM . Top 10 ! . Rins had a very solid week-end as well. At least some good news for Suzuki. 

Total votes: 49

A lot of people have been complaining about the race being a lottery and results down to luck, but look at the results: Mar, Ped, Vin, Ros, Cru, Dov, etc.

The same riders finish in the same positions as any given race weekend. All arguments against flag to flag seem to propose some sort of alternative that is too stage managed and manufactured, which ironically is what fans get upset about. There have been many fully dry races where the riders have been allowed a 'straight fight' only to have rider A pull away with what might as well be a 20 sec lead. (Jerez this year). 

All bike racing is the best. What else was I going to watch at 6 am on Sunday?  

Total votes: 45

I was surprised in a way that no one gambled to come into the pits and change bikes at the end of the warmup lap. Obviously as the viewer we had the benefit of the helicopter shot which showed how rapidly the track was drying, far quicker than anyone expected. But even after just 1 lap it was very obvious changes were going to have to be made very sharpish.

But I guess if most teams were in the middle of altering bike setups, a bike change on the warmup lap would've not figured into anyones plans. But certainly for some teams they'd have learnt the hard way in terms of lack of preparation and improve on that next time.

As for those who moaned about the race being a bore and flag to flag 'ruined' a good race. What other solution is there? F2F has been in place for a decade now and it's the best solution to mixed condition races. They're not always going to be great races, but once or twice a year, you're going to get thrown a weird curveball race like this, and it's always fun to see how each rider and team deals with the unexoected challenge.

Am sure we all would've prefered an out and out dry battle from the get go, but you can't control or know what the weather is always going to do. You just got to get on with it. So while it wasn't exactly a classic race, it was still a fastinating one and still plenty of interesting sub plots unfolded throughout.

Total votes: 36

On the grid Ralf Waldmann (who is working for German Eurosport) told Poncharal to start on slicks - but he didn't want to.

Would have been interesting to see the outcome indeed.

Total votes: 37

What if one of the secondary riders had gambled and changed to slicks and dry setup on the grid? Would those first two laps have been possible?

Total votes: 45

The pace dropped by 10-15s per lap once the slicks went on. As long as any rider starting on slicks would be losing less than the time it took to change bikes in total it would have been a gain. Given that MM went in on lap 2 and then gained the 10-15s per lap immediately (albeit at a higher risk) it would have been likely that anyone starting on slicks would be at least as fast as the wet tyre riders from the get go and thus they should have gained on it.

I was basically yelling at the TV trying to tell them to run slicks from the start. But what do I know. :-P

Total votes: 30

Weather ruined the race. As has happened too much during the past few seasons. Not much the organizers can do about this. Changing bikes mid race is the best solution. Let's hope the rest of the season we will have more dry weekends. I am hoping the tyres will finally be stable now so we can actually get some racing done.

And yeah, because Rossi is bad at feeling out the track state people dislike the format. Big surprise.

Total votes: 39

Thanks for the round up as ever. I threw in my 2 cents post event re Lorenzo's result. Clearly I got it wrong and should have kept my tongue. His team got it wrong. This is something one could not see from the couch or listening to the commentary. I guess 'hold your tongue' until David's round up is published. Lorenzo looked very good and composed all weekend. Flag to flag and the general pessimistic approach of teams is pretty silly. Its a wet circuit so your first bike is wet set up for sure.

The idea that a rider at this level may crash on his wet bike on his outlap is a ludicrous philosophy supporting a second wet bike. One wet, one dry setup bike in changeable conditions is the obvious route. Dry or wet tire compound should be the only thing to consider prior to switch other than a suspension tweak by a few clicks based on weekend data. So Ducati screwed up Lorenzo's race and Dovi's to a l.esser degree. The track drying out so quickly to me as a layman was no surprise. Soaring temperatures across Europe...Lucifer heatwave. Any break in cloud cover should have seen the inevitable coming. Marc saw it for sure and had it dumped down again with 8 laps remaining he would have slotted back to his wet bike and won by 20 seconds anyway. Souer grapes from my side. After FP2 on Friday I figured Ducati had the eventualities covered big time whethr Dovi or Jorge. The general consus is Austria will be a Ducati turkey shoot. I'm not sure about that. The Yamaha punches off the corner very well and the hamster fairing is clearly not as efficient as hoped.

Total votes: 44

Marc knew exactly what he was doing by backing them up and then dropping back 10 places on the 2nd lap. His team was prepped and prepared.

The joker had an ace up his sleave

Total votes: 47

Having looked at some footage on twitter from Aleix's pit, you could see that even if he had been held, it looked like Ianonne was in too hot anyway, looked like he was gonna overshoot and would most likely have had to line up on the left side of his bike instead of the desired right.  The long shot camera angle showed that he had turned in quite late to avoid another rider which would have made it hard for the Aprillia pit crew to see him.  
Additionally when you look at the "release" guy, Aleix was so pumped up and in the action of blasting off after swapping bikes, there was no way he would have been able to stop him anyway.  The guy would have had to have stood directly in from of him and Aleix probably would have just run him over...... the good old hot blooded guy he is :) lol

Total votes: 37

GREAT WRITE UP DAVID.

Marquez clearly chose the wrong wet rear tyre but if he hadn't, he would probably have pitted end of lap 3.  Pedrossa, Lorenzo and Vinales pitted end of lap 4.  So Marquez was FORCED to pit when he did, then managed the next lap very well (2m 22.81s).  Compare that to Aussie trier Jack Miller.  He pitted at the same time as Marquez, but his first lap back was 2m 35.10s (did he also have a poor pit stop?).  Then his next lap was 2m 2.5s to Marquez 1m 58.9s.  The next lap saw Miller do a 2m 1.4s to Marquez' 1m 58.283s.  From there on Marquez was in the high 1m 57s for the next 14 laps;  Miller failed to make one 1m 57s lap.  Yet Miller won the wet Assen race in 2016.  I think this highlights the blazing talent of Marquez.  And his ability to turn a poor choice into a success.

 

 

Total votes: 46

what a way to restart the second half of the season! I think that after Sunday race we should create the  Dumb & Dumber prize. The winner is definitly Yamaha (Tech 3 included). David, please: can you find some reliable information on what really happened? Are we to believe that 20 plus people did not understand that both Maverick and Valentino had to immediately go back and swap bikes as soon as MM pitted in ? If it is true : how many heads will roll? I'm still speechless at this major f**k up and the missed opportunity of a Yamaha double podium. I will not even comment on Ducati : for once that JL seemed ready to shine they just denied him of the opportunity to make a difference. 

Honda played it to perfection, at least on MM's side of the garage. A clear simple and perfect strategy. And MM skills of course.

All in all it was a shame though : with this flag to flag business we were robbed of a possibly great race, with many contenders for the top 3 spots who would have probably battled until the very end.

Some positive points : JL might have really found something. VR seems happier and more confident with his new-old-notsolastyear-thisyear-oldnew chassis. Folger is slowly but surely improving: i would put my money on him rather than Zarco.  Vinales seems out of the confused zone, and getting back his cool. 

Now the question is: who can stop MM and keep this championship alive and exciting until the very end?

 

Total votes: 33

...hmmm, at the point when it would have been ideal to come in he was trailing 1.5 seconds behind the leader. The next lap he also wasn't 1st but knew that JL would be changing bikes ASAP... the next lap he finally made it to the front & still didn't pit, but even the guy who's bike wasn't ready pitted! He actually waited until Marc had almost caught them! He knows the conditions. He knows how much faster he could go on slicks. I'm dumbfounded that such an experienced racer relies on other people's reactions & not obvious real race conditions & logic.

Total votes: 30

This race: Ugh.

I actually love flag-to-flag.  It mixes things up, adds intrigue, and gets the team more involved during the race.  Most flag-to-flag races are fraught with tension throughout, lacking the (relatively) boring lull in the middle of the race that tends to happen.  Mostly, though, it ups the odds of lesser funded, less heralded rider standing on the podium by like 1000%.  So a flag-to-flag race that gifts the guy leading the championship a 15 second lead?  And sees two of his main title contenders on the podium with him?  That's just a crap race to me.  If Rossi, Dovizioso, Vinales won by nearly 20 seconds, I'd feel the same way.  Totally sucked the drama out of the event.

Yes, Marquez won this race largely with skill, as he's perhaps the only rider in the world who could have laid down that kind of time on a drying track on slicks.  On the other hand, it was total dumb luck that he ended up in the position to use that advantage, as the choice of soft wets was a horrible decision, as Marquez himself admitted (I'm in the minority in that I actually like Nick Harris, but in this case he and Matt Birt were way off base with their weird conspiracy theories in the race commentary).  I'm betting, had Marquez put on the medium wets, he'd have been top two on track and not dropping through the field like a stone, would have had no reason to pit after lap two and would have waited an extra lap to pit, which would have left him with Pedrosa to contend with on a much drier track, and possibly for the whole race.  Would he have still won?  Maybe.  Probably.  I don't know.  But it would have been a much different race either way, and not won by a mile.  I'd have liked to watch that race.

On a completely unrelated note: David, the comment preview function is still worthless for subscribers that still view in the dark background/light text mode, as the previewed comment text is the same color as the background.  Also, did you ever end up getting another batch of Motomatters T-shirts made?

Total votes: 37

Can someone here enlighten me to who's responsible for the creation of this term? I realize the rules were changed so the race would not be stopped/paused for bike changes if the weather changes as in the past but it annoys me to no end in that... exactly what race is not flag to flag?!?! Why can't it simply be called a wet or rain race like normal.

Sorry, rant over. 

Total votes: 40

I agree all races are flag to flag, or lights to flag when lights are there for the start etc. Or flag to flag to flag to flag if we stop for a red flag and then restart. Declaring it a wet race won't stop something gnarly happenning on lap 2 that stops proceedings for a while. If it is early in the race nothing short of death is going to stop the re-start once it is safe to race. Death will stop the show as we have seen. Sad face

Yeah T-shirts and other Merchandise or regalia for supporters. Top idea Geddyt! Stuff that is only availabe here. Big silly grin

 

Total votes: 30

The one piece of information I've not seen. When was Rossi's Yamaha ready on slicks with a dry setup? When could he have come in and actually had a bike ready?

Today's story from Heuwen is that Yamaha still don't have the dashboard text display. Because they don't want Dorna to see what they're doing with the spec electronics. Huh?

Total votes: 24