The weather put the cat among the pigeons at Brno on Friday. Hot weather, track temperatures of over 50°C and a bumpy track pushed the riders and their tires to the limit, and the afternoon session of MotoGP turned into a proper crashfest. Valentino Rossi was the first to go down, followed a second later by Dani Pedrosa, but what caused those two to crash had nothing to do with the weather conditions. A leaking fork seal dribbled oil onto Dani Pedrosa's brakes, causing a mist of oily smoke to trail behind Pedrosa, onto the rear wheel of his Honda RC213V and the front wheel of Valentino Rossi's Yamaha M1. Rossi lost the front and crashed at Turn 13, Pedrosa was highsided off his bike at Turn 14. Rossi walked away unhurt, Pedrosa slammed his left foot into the ground, aggravating an old injury suffered in Australia in 2003.
Rossi was perplexed rather than anything else. "I feel some smoke from the bike of Dani already from the corner before. But I think it was just a feeling, because usually, don't happen," Rossi said. It could not have been a lot of oil, he added, as it was only him who crashed because of the incident, apart from Pedrosa himself. Fortunately he was not injured, Rossi said, though it had created a problem for the Italian. "I was in the wrong place at the wrong moment," Rossi said. "The important thing is no problem for me, but we lose the possibility to try the number 1 bike. So from that moment we have to try the other bike that was on another setting. But anyway is important to understand the way to follow." Rossi's pace on his second bike was good, but he believed the set up they had wanted to try on the bike he crashed on would have been even better.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after practice at Brno:
Marc Marquez topped the timesheets in the second session of free practice for the MotoGP class, but it wasn't Marquez' speed which was the talking point of FP2. High temperatures, a greasy track and a mechanical problem with Dani Pedrosa's bike turned FP2 into a crash fest, with a host of riders going down. Valentino Rossi was the first to go at the start of the session, the Movistar Yamaha rider losing the front after smoke started coming from Dani Pedrosa's Honda. Pedrosa followed a second later, his crash and Rossi the result of a fork seal letting go and spilling fork oil onto the carbon brake discs, where the oil caught fire, putting smoke and possibly oil onto the track. The crash put an end to Pedrosa's session, the Spaniard suffering a suspected heel fracture, and being taken off to the Clinica Mobile for further examination.
More riders followed, though not at the last chicane where Pedrosa and Rossi had gone down. As track temperatures rose to well over 50° C, the surface became extremely greasy, riders tumbling in every corner. Andrea Dovizioso, Mike Di Meglio, Bradley Smith, and even Marc Marquez all ended up in the gravel, as tires fought a losing battle with the diminishing grip.
Jorge Lorenzo ended the first session of free practice on top of the timesheets. The Movistar Yamaha rider was immediately into his stride, taking over at the top halfway through the session and leading to the end. Marc Marquez ended the session in 2nd, and started off fast. However, Marquez' session was marred by a minor fall. The Repsol Honda rider had trouble getting the bike stopped into Turn 13, ran into the gravel and tried to ride his way through it. He made it most of the way, but not quite out again, tipping over in a low-speed spill which did little harm to the bike and no harm to the rider.
Dani Pedrosa set the 3rd fastest time, just over a tenth of a second behind his teammate, clearly comfortable at a track he loves. Pedrosa was followed by the two Factory Ducatis, both Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone sporting a narrower fairing and a new engine for better power delivery. Valentino Rossi grabbed 6th spot, though Bradley Smith made him fight for it, the pair swapping places in the final moments of the session.
It was a hectic trip across the Atlantic for many in the MotoGP paddock. The air at Brno was thick with tales of airport-based woe, of overbooked flights, bad weather delays, missed transfers and lost luggage. Despite the supposed privilege of platinum frequent flyer status – one of the side benefits of working for a MotoGP team is you rack up a lot of air miles – the staff of one MotoGP were stuck in one airport for over 24 hours, thrown out of the airport lounge and unable to leave. Chicago O'Hare was temporarily transformed into the motorcycle racing equivalent of purgatory: large numbers of riders, mechanics and other staff kicking their heels with nothing to do. That is especially tough on riders: most of them suffer from some form of hyperactivity or another. Few can sit still, and most are very outdoor types. L'enfer, c'est les aéroports, if you will forgive me paraphrasing Sartre.
But there was an overwhelming sense of contentment at being in Brno. The track is much loved, even among those who do not go particularly well here. It is wide, fast, and flowing, and allows the riders to play with the lines. Dani Pedrosa, who has won here twice in MotoGP, explained why he liked the track. "It's wide, and the corners are with a nice shape, so you can be precise," Pedrosa told us. "It's a track that demands that you are precise, and I like this. Also, you can try many things, one centimeter more out, one centimeter more in, later, deeper, or earlier. This gives you a gain to be able to adjust your riding lap by lap, and some tracks are just one line and one pace and you cannot change. Here you can play a little bit more and that's positive. I like it."
Various press releases ahead of this weekend's Czech Grand Prix at Brno:
From one endangered race to another. The MotoGP paddock leaves Indianapolis, possibly for the last time, and heads to Brno, a race which has been on the endangered list for the past ten years. Not all of the paddock got out on time: overbooked flights and thunderstorms caused massive delays, and left riders, teams and media stuck hanging around in airports for many hours. Hardly the ideal way to adapt to a shift of time zones by six hours, but they have little choice. There will more than a few bewildered faces in the paddock at Brno, trying to figure out where they are and what day it is.
A quick glance around should be enough to remind them. Brno is a glorious circuit, set atop a hill in the middle of a forest. To reach the track, you drive up the narrow, winding, tree-lined roads that once formed the basis of the old street circuit. The closed circuit which replaced those roads still retains most of that character: fast, flowing, rolling up hill and down dale through the trees. Where the track really differs from the public roads is in how wide it is.
The space that creates is seized upon eagerly by the riders, using it to take a number of lines through each of its corners, giving plenty of opportunities for passing. The fact that the corners are all combinations helps: riders flick right-left, left-right, right-left again and again. Make a pass into one corner, and your rival has a chance to strike back immediately at the next. It is a track which is made for great racing, and great motorcycle racing at that. Riders, fans and media alike all hope fervently that the financial and political problems which have dogged the Czech Grand Prix can be resolved, and we can keep this spectacular circuit.
Indianapolis MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma
Tuesday, August 11 2015
Bridgestone slick options: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre options: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez won last Sunday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix ahead of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP pair of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi who finished in second and third places respectively.
After track temperatures reached almost sixty degrees Celsius on Friday afternoon, conditions for the race were much cooler with a peak track temperature of 38°C recorded. During the race, Marquez set a new Indianapolis Circuit Record Lap of 1’32.625 on the twenty-third lap and also set a new overall race time record of (41'55.371), beating the old record by twelve seconds.
Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
Press releases from the MotoGP teams, Bridgestone and the circuit after the race at Indianapolis:
2015 Indianapolis Race Round Up, Part 1: Marquez Vs Lorenzo, Rossi Vs Pedrosa, And Why Ducati Is Going Backwards
Whether this is the last time MotoGP visits Indianapolis or not – the lack of an announcement on Sunday night suggests that this was the last time – the 2015 edition will certainly go down in history as memorable. Race day saw the biggest crowd since 2009 head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though in a facility this vast, anything less than a quarter of a million fans is going to look empty, and all 67,000 were treated to some genuine racing spectacle. An upside down Moto3 race, where those bold enough to gamble on slicks were duly rewarded; an old-fashioned Moto2 dogfight, where a group of evenly matched riders brawled from start to finish; and a pair of exceptionally tense duels in MotoGP, with championship positions raising the stakes even further.
The race of the day? Hard to say. All three had their own appeal. Rain and a drying track made Moto3 a weird contest, with massive gaps between the leaders, and yet still strangely exciting, because of the potential effects on the championship. Moto2 harked back to the halcyon days of Márquez, Iannone, and Espargaro, and reminded us of why we used to love the class. And MotoGP was more about tension than straight up excitement, brains kept busy calculating the ramifications for the championship as the front four swapped positions.
Marc Marquez claimed victory Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after an epic, race-long battle with Jorge Lorenzo. It was Marquez’s fifth-straight MotoGP victory at Indy and his ninth-straight win on American soil. Jorge Lorenzo, who led all of the race but the final three laps, took second to close the championship gap to Valentino Rossi.
Rossi, who took third after his own race-long battle with Dani Pedrosa (4th), now leads the championship by nine points after ceding four points to Yamaha teammate Lorenzo. Rossi has finished on the podium every race this year. Pedrosa, who held third for much of the race, finished 15 seconds in front of fifth-place Andrea Iannone. Bradley Smith held tight on Iannone's tail but was unable to pass and so took sixth. Another nine seconds back were Pol Espargaro (7th) and Cal Crutchlow (8th) who partially made up for a lousy start that left the Briton in 13th early on.
Andrea Dovizioso, who ran wide on the race's first lap and dropped to last place, charged through the pack to reclaim ninth just in front of Danilo Petrucci (10th).
Rain was predicted mid-race for the circuit, so each team was ready with a rain-tire bike staged in pit lane when the contest began.
2015 Indianapolis MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Marquez' Return, Lorenzo's Standstill, Rossi's Qualifying, And Moto3 Money Troubles
After practice on Friday, it looked like the MotoGP race at Indianapolis was going to a knock-down, drag-out battle between Marc Márquez and Jorge Lorenzo, both men very evenly matched. A day later, and it looks like the battle could be much bigger than that, with Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi on the same pace, and maybe even Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith, and if things go right for him, Aleix Espargaro involved in the fight. Unfortunately for the fans, the battle will be for second, as one man has moved the game on. Marc Márquez' reign in the USA is looking increasingly secure.
The Repsol Honda rider upped his game on Saturday, topping both free practice sessions comfortably, his pace in FP4 particularly fearsome. He finished FP4 over six tenths ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, setting his fast lap on old tires, in full race trim, on the second lap of a long run. His pace was solid, all mid to high 1'32s, where Lorenzo was cranking out low 1'33s. He then followed it up in qualifying with a display of supremacy which belied the ease with which he took pole. After going out and setting the pole lap on his first flying lap, he returned to the garage where he sat calmly for five minutes, unperturbed by the happenings on the track. He returned for another try, even though it was not needed, and set another lap faster than any other rider would manage.
In the press conference, Márquez explained that he was once again comfortable on the bike, and that his team had found another step forward. The language he used to describe his situation was both modest and inaccurate. "Yesterday, I saw that Jorge was really strong," he said, "but today we got closer and we had a similar pace." In truth, Márquez and Lorenzo had similar pace on Friday. On Saturday, Márquez was head and shoulders above the rest.