The recent spate of Saturday morning highsides is currently being put down to two factors. The first is a lack of grip caused by the cooler temperatures in the morning, a factor that nobody can do very much about. But the second factor is a lack of data, due to the Friday morning practice session being scrapped. With the riders out for the first time on Friday afternoon, in warmer temperatures and subsequent grippier tires, the teams and riders are being caught out in the cool of the morning.
But this problem is about to be addressed. According to reports in the Italian media (Sportmediaset and MotoSprint), MotoGP is about to return to four sessions of free practice, up from three. The "lost morning" on Friday is to be reclaimed, with all three classes in MotoGP having an extra session of practice reinstated on Friday morning. The measure is due to take effect from the Motorland Aragon Grand Prix in the middle of September, with the series returning to three free practice sessions and one qualifying session in the afternoon.
The reduction of practice from four to three sessions was part of a series of cost-cutting measures introduced at the start of the 2009 season, at the height of the financial crisis. To ensure that costs are kept in check, the sessions will be shortened in length, from three lots of one hour to four lots of 45 minutes, providing the riders and teams with exactly the same amount of time on track.
The move is likely to be welcomed by inexperienced riders and teams. In a forthcoming interview to be published on MotoMatters.com, Hiroshi Aoyama and his Interwetten Honda crew chief Tom Jojic pleaded for exactly this change. Having practice spread over four sessions would give the crews more time to analyze data, and to test their assumptions on the bike, Jojic explained. Now, too much work was being crammed into too little time, and the teams were being forced to try things out without time to evaluate exactly what the problem might be. Though more track time would also be welcomed, this move will surely go some way to address those complaints.