MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
A grand farce at Phillip Island
Embarrassing. No other word for it, really. Well, apart from incompetence on the grandest scale. Pretty much everyone involved in the upper echelons of MotoGP was responsible for Sunday’s travesty of a race: Bridgestone, Dorna, the FIM, the Grand Prix Permanent Bureau, the Grand Prix Commission, IRTA, Race Direction, safety officer Franco Uncini and safety advisor Loris Capirossi. They all failed in their duty of care to the riders, putting them in all kinds of danger because they hadn’t done their jobs properly.
We all make mistakes, but this was several dozen well-paid, experienced professionals failing to spot a disaster in the making.
Phillip Island hosted its first Grand Prix in 1989. Ever since it’s been well known that the track eats tyres for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well, it eats the left side of the tyres, which is why asymmetric tyres were used there before pretty much any other racetrack, with the exception of Daytona, with its Stateside-style banking, taken at full speed with huge g-forces going through the tyres.
Anti-clockwise Phillip Island features seven left-handers, but it’s the last two lefts – Turns 11 and 12 – that really burn rubber. Taken in third and then fourth gear, the riders are building speed, using high lean angles and big handful of throttles as they fire out of 11, then lay it into Turn 12, where they need the fastest exit for the start/finish straight. The result is massive friction and thus sky-high tyre temperatures that can lead to delamination or tearing.
Bridgestone aren’t alone in suffering Island ignominy. It happened to Dunlop in Sunday’s Moto2 race (which was reduced by 50 per cent because the tyres wouldn’t last any longer) and it’s also happened to Pirelli in World Superbikes and Supersport.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.