The Brno round of MotoGP was one for the history books, and so Neil Morrison, Scott Jones and David Emmett got together to discuss the events of Brno in the latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast.
There was a lot to talk about. Obviously, we take a look at Cal Crutchlow's win, and how making the right choice of tires helped make the difference. That tire choice proved to be crucial, and we give our opinions on what happened to the soft wet tires of the various protagonists, and who, if anyone, is to blame. We celebrate those who chose wisely, but also the riders such as Marc Marquez and Hector Barbera who nursed the soft wet tires home.
The final piece of the MotoGP puzzle has finally dropped. Eugene Laverty has decided that he will be switching back to WorldSBK, where he will ride a factory-backed Aprilia RSV4-RF with the Milwaukee Racing SMR squad. The departure of Laverty means that Yonny Hernandez will get to keep his place in the Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati team, filling the final empty slot on the MotoGP grid.
It may seem strange for Laverty to abandon MotoGP, just as his star has been rising in the class. Since Aspar switched from Honda's RC213V-RS Open Class machine to the Ducati Desmosedici GP14.2, the older Ducati working very well with the Michelin tires, more rear grip helping to reduce the understeer the GP14.2 suffers from. He is currently eleventh in the championship, and has a fourth and a sixth as best finishes, Laverty being annoyed that early traffic cost him the chance of a podium at Brno. It took the factory Ducatis on their brand new GP16s six races to get ahead of the Irishman in the championship standings.
So why has Laverty decided to abandon MotoGP in favor of WorldSBK? There are a number of reasons, but all of them boil down to a single issue: Eugene Laverty is a winner, and he likes to win. On two-year-old machinery, in a private team (though with good factory support, unlike other satellite set ups), Laverty's only chance to win in MotoGP would come when the weather acts as the great neutralizer.
The tire degradation during the MotoGP race at Brno was still a hot topic on the test on Monday, after so many riders suffered problems during the race on Sunday. We asked most of the riders who tested on Monday what they felt about the tires, and whether they were safe. We also spoke to Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's technical director, and he explained why he felt that some riders had suffered problems, while others had been able to finish the race.
It’s taken him 98 races and 92 crashes but it’s all been worth it – Crutchlow has finally made it all the way to the top
Andrea Iannone one week, Cal Crutchlow the next; what a difference a week makes. It’s hard to think of two more different winners in the MotoGP paddock: Iannone, the tattooed, coiffured bad boy so in love with himself, and Crutchlow, the scruffy, amiable family man who would happily wrestle a grizzly bear if you gave him half the chance.
Crutchlow’s win at Brno was hugely popular within the paddock because he’s one of the good guys; usually joking, often a bit rude and always straight down the line. He says what he thinks and damn the consequences. Within the shiny MotoGP bubble, where pretence and smoke and mirrors dazzle way too many people, Crutchlow stands out like a greasy-haired rocker in a bunch of preening, perfumed mods. What you see is what you get.
After a tough race on Sunday, managing tires on a drying track, around half of the MotoGP grid headed back to the track on Monday for a day of testing. Not everyone was enthusiastic about that. "Usually we hate Mondays, and this is a Monday that we hate," Danilo Petrucci told us with a wry grin on his face. He pinpointed why testing made a lot less sense for satellite riders than for factory teams. Satellite teams only really have set up changes to test, and the occasional tire, if the single tire supplier has something new. There was a real downside to working on set up at a track you have just raced at, Petrucci said. "If you are angry because you didn't get the best set up on Sunday, you getting more angry if you find it on Monday."
Jorge Lorenzo ended the day as the fastest man at Brno, after a test which was extended due to a late start. A truck had spilled oil on the circuit, and the track needed to be cleaned and then dry. Circuit conditions were far from perfect, after a full day of rain on Sunday.
The two Movistar Yamahas ended the day as fastest, ahead of the Repsol Honda of Marc Marquez. Cal Crutchlow was fourth quickest, ahead of Maverick Viñales on the Suzuki.
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.
MotoGP standings after Brno:
Results and summary of the MotoGP race in Brno: