Analysis

Misano MotoGP Sunday Subscriber Notes - Marquez vs Quartararo, and A Lack Of Grip from The Stars

Subscriber notes

The outcome of the MotoGP race at Misano was decided some time ago. Several key decisions went into determining the result, most of them many weeks, or even many months ago. Those decisions set in motion a train of events that led inexorably to the domination of a single manufacturer at the Misano World Circuit on Sunday.

One of those decisions was to microblast the surface of the track to remove the build up of rubber from the track and improve the grip in the wet. The microblasting took place some three months ago, and on Saturday, Michelin boss Piero Taramasso explained what had been done. "They shot very small balls of metal with high speed into the asphalt. From one big stone, this treatment makes many smaller stones. So this treatment you reduce the macro roughness, and you increase the micro roughness."

"Normally this is the way to increase the grip. What happens is that as soon as you do the treatment, you increase the wet grip. In wet conditions the grip is better instantly. But for the dry, you have to wait more and more time for dry grip because this treatment cleans all the track. It makes it like a brand new track, no rubber, nothing on the floor. So that’s why the grip on dry is lower for the first five, six, or seven months. After that, after the track has been used a few times, sometimes it’s better."

No rubber

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Misano MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Old Rivalries Rekindled, Why Yamaha Is Fast, And The Value Of Dani Pedrosa To KTM

A race track is a large place. 4+ kilometers of asphalt, 15 meters wide. A MotoGP bike is a small thing, under 2 meters long from nose to tip, and 60 centimeters wide. The bikes should get lost in the vast expanse of asphalt on track. Yet somehow, these tiny vehicles always seem to run across each other on track.

The riders are to blame, of course. There are advantages to be gained from following other riders around. In Moto3, a slipstream is vital to gaining extra speed. In MotoGP, using a rider ahead as a target allows you to judge your braking points better and gives that extra bit of motivation which is worth a tenth or two. And a tenth or two can mean starting a row ahead of where you would otherwise.

When bikes meet on the track, it always sparks resentment. The rider in front is annoyed at being followed, and will slow down to try to force the other rider in front. The rider behind gets annoyed by the antics of the person they are trying to follow. In the best case, it is all soon forgotten. In the worst case, well, it involves Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi and a small war breaks out in the Italian and Spanish press, and a much bigger war breaks out among the fans.

Old rivalries

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Misano MotoGP Friday Round Up: Why Are The Yamahas So Fast On A Track With No Grip?

On a normal race weekend, you might see one or two minor updates in all of the garages collectively. Factories don't like to debut too many new parts at the same time, as there is not enough time to evaluate them effectively. And normally, you would test one part at a time and evaluate them separately, to try to understand what difference each specific part makes.

However, there was an official test here at Misano two weeks ago, and so teams had a chance to do the preliminary sifting ahead of the race. And that is why Valentino Rossi started FP1 with a new carbon-fiber swingarm on both of his Yamaha M1s, tested a new aerodynamic front wheel cover, and both he and Maverick Viñales had one bike each with the new double-barreled exhaust debuted at the test.

"It's positive, because it looks like that Yamaha is working stronger now and also working in the right direction," Rossi told us on Friday afternoon. "For me, from the end of 2016 to the Brno test, in reality everything we test is not clearly better than the old stuff. So technically speaking it was a very difficult period and in fact the gap to the other manufacturers increased. But now, from the beginning of the season something changed and have a lot of different people from Japanese especially but also Europe and it looks like now we start to see the effect."

Quiet revolution

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MotoGP Misano Thursday Round Up: Track Preconceptions, Disagreement In Aprilia, Coming Back From Injury, And Lorenzo Parries Criticism

Thursday was the first chance most of the media got to talk to the MotoGP riders after the test at Misano two weeks ago, and find out what they really thought about the test, rather than trying to decode the meaning of the press releases issued. That clarified a lot about the test, answering some of the questions we had been left with, and intriguingly, raising yet more questions which had slipped under the radar.

As always, however, when you ask different riders about a subject, they will have different opinions. Even if they are teammates, like Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli. Asked about the state of the track, Quartararo expressed concern about the lack of grip, especially in certain places.

"For me, [track grip] was terrible, but some corners were good, some corners were less, and one corner was totally a disaster, corner 14," the Petronas Yamaha rider said. "I think many riders crashed in this corner. I heard that when Marc crashed, he thought it was the white line which they just painted, but as soon as you want to put lean angle in this corner, you crash. And I have a lot of big moments in this corner. Let's see if it improves this weekend, because in the test it was a really critical place to ride."

Better the devil you know

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Misano MotoGP Preview: Surprises Expected At Circuit By The Sea

There is a lot to like about the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, aka The MotoGP Race With The Name Which Is Too Long To Fit In A Headline. The track is just a stone's throw from the Italian coast, so visitors can spend their days at the track and their evenings at the beach, soaking up the atmosphere. The weather is (usually) spectacular, the food is outstanding, and the area has a long association with motor sports, and motorcycle racing in particular. A quarter of the paddock could probably sleep in their own beds and commute to the track at the weekend.

But the upsides also have a downside. The location of the circuit may be perfect for the fans, but it is a nightmare for crew chiefs and riders. The sea mist which settles on the track most nights brings salt along with it, robbing it of grip. The spectacular weather in September usually also means the sun burning down, raising track temperatures to the high 40s Centigrade, and into the region where the grip falls off a cliff. The track can be greasy and unpredictable, and despite being resurfaced to address these issues, physics and chemistry will always prevail.

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Misano MotoGP Test Friday Notes: Much Work For Yamaha, Honda, KTM, and Michelin

The Misano MotoGP test may well turn out to be more important than it might seem at first glance. Perhaps precisely because it was a private test, and the teams could work in some privacy away from the prying eyes of most media. The pit lane was closed, and there were virtually no media present, with the honorable exception of Italian stalwarts GPOne.com.

It meant that factories could test early versions of their 2020 bikes with relatively little interference from outside, other than the usual crowd of engineers from rival factories gathered round as they warm up their bikes. And that is precisely what Yamaha, Honda, and KTM in particular spent their time doing, while Ducati and Suzuki debuted a few parts which may or may not see use next season.

New rubber

It wasn't only the motorcycle manufactures. Michelin also brought two updates, a rear tire with a different casing to help improve performance, which was also tested at Barcelona and Brno, and a new front tire with a stronger casing, to help give support in braking. Both tires received positive feedback, the riders praising the front in particular.

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Misano MotoGP Test Thursday Notes: Yamaha Lead On Busy Day Of Testing

The advantage of a private test is that work can take place away from the prying eyes of the media. Some of the MotoGP manufacturers, most notably Yamaha and Honda, have taken advantage of the fact that the two-day test at Misano is private, and have debuted various new parts for both this year and next. With the pit lane closed to the media, the factories can work more freely.

The work going on means you can set little stock by the order on the timesheets. The two satellite Petronas Yamaha riders were fastest, but as they have mainly been working on race setup, this should hardly come as a surprise. Nor should the fact that Marc Márquez was third fastest, the Repsol Honda rider always fast under all conditions. But riders such as Alex Rins were not focused on a single fast lap, and so comparisons are difficult.

Yamaha had the most intriguing test program. Factory riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales had a lot of parts to test. Both riders tried a second version of the 2020 engine they debuted at Brno, and though it was a slight improvement, much more was needed. "The step is not as big as we need, but in the right direction," was Rossi's verdict, while Viñales was a little more pessimistic, saying it was not the step they had been hoping for.

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Silverstone Subscriber Notes, Part 1: On Marquez' Bad Days, Rins' Potential, And Whether GB Loves MotoGP

Silverstone is a proper race track. It does everything a race track is supposed to do. It challenges the bikes, with high speeds, fast corners, and some hard braking. It challenges the riders, rewarding courage and skill, and allowing riders to make up for any shortcomings of their machines. The new surface at Silverstone has only magnified this: the pole record tumbled by 1.7 seconds, the race record fell by 1.5 seconds, entering sub-two-minute territory for the first time, and the race was 33 seconds faster than the fastest previous edition of the race on this circuit layout. And to top it off, we had glorious weather at a glorious race track.

We had glorious racing to go with weather. The winning margin of all three races combined was 0.799 seconds, the races in all three classes keeping the fans on the edge of their seats. If you needed to persuade someone of what makes motorcycle racing so great, just point them to the Silverstone weekend. It was worth it.

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Silverstone MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Confidence Breeds Contempt

Confidence plays a key role in racing. Having confidence in yourself, in your team, in your bike, in your strategy. If you have confidence in every part of the jigsaw puzzle which goes to make up motorcycle racing, you can exceed expectations. Motorcycle racing may play out on 300 hp machines around six kilometer stretches of asphalt, but the fifteen centimeters of gray matter between the ears is where winning and losing is decided.

That confidence is what explains so much of Marc Márquez' success throughout his career. He has confidence in his ability, gained through hours and hours of practice, and hard training in preparation. He has confidence in his team, having worked with the same group of people for most of his career. He has confidence in his bike: it may not do everything he would want, but he understands exactly what it will and won't do, and can make it do what he needs it to do. He has confidence in the ability of his team and himself to come up with a strategy to cope with whatever a race weekend throws at them.

All these things combined are what has allowed him to win five MotoGP championships and 50 MotoGP races. Each of these elements of confidence feeds into the other, in a virtuous circle, making him stronger. And they allow him to take risks at the right time to gain maximum advantage.

CTC

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Silverstone MotoGP Friday Round Up: Why Grip Creates Complications As Well As Advantages

Has the resurfacing of Silverstone been a success. Judging by the reaction from the riders, you would have to say yes. "I don't think you'll speak to another rider today who doesn't have a smile on his face, because the asphalt is amazing, the grip is amazing," Jack Miller raved, echoing the thoughts of most riders.

The timesheets proved that they were not just saying that at the behest of the Silverstone PR people. It took Marc Márquez 4 laps of the track to beat the best time set during FP1 in 2018, his time already faster than the existing race lap record. By the end of FP1, Fabio Quartararo was within a whisker of the outright lap record set in 2017. That record was beaten first by Valentino Rossi at the end of FP2, then destroyed by Fabio Quartararo five seconds later. Quartararo's best lap in FP2 was over seven tenths quicker than Márquez' pole record from 2017.

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