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.
Predicting the unpredictable
Looking back at Le Mans and forward to the greatest race of the year
Was Jorge Lorenzo’s runaway victory at Le Mans the sign of many more to come or just the latest twist of a new technical era in which the only thing worth predicting is the unpredictability of the racing?
Who knows, except the man himself and crew chief Ramon Forcada. But what is a known-known is that while fans love watching racing when they don’t know what’s going to happen, the factories and riders hate dealing with curve balls from the left field. They spend many millions and work endless hours to know what’s what – all the way from suspension clicks to software algorithms – and during the Bridgestone era they pretty much knew what was what. Right now, at the dawn of a new Michelin era, most of them don’t. Great for us; not so great for them.
What might be significant is that both Lorenzo’s wins – in Qatar and in France – were achieved on softer casing rear tyres, which he prefers because a more pliant tyre gives the feel and edge grip he needs for his sky-high corner speed.
Michelin introduced stiffer casings after Scott Redding’s Argentine tyre failure and then reintroduced softer-casing rear tyres following the wheelspin problems of Jerez, so his two wins bookend those events.
If the new casing did play an important part in Lorenzo’s latest win, it may prove even more crucial next week at magnificent Mugello, where corner speed is a much bigger deal than it is at Mickey Mouse Le Mans.
And yet in Italy the focus may move to the front tyre, because Mugello is one of those rare racetracks where the front can be more important than the rear, because the undulating layout features numerous negative-camber corner entries, where it’s much easier to lose the front because the track goes away from you. Some of those downhill entries are also quite bumpy – in other words they are very much like the Musee left-hander at Le Mans that claimed four victims on Sunday.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.