Lack Of Tire Testing At Phillip Island Causes Moto2 And MotoGP Races To Be Shortened

The lack of tire testing prior to the Phillip Island round has caught both control tire companies out. Race Direction has decided to shorten the Moto2 race from 25 to just 13 laps, while the MotoGP race will now include a compulsory pit stop to swap bikes, and the race length has been cut by one lap from 27 to 26 laps. In addition, the MotoGP riders are prohibited from using the softer option rear tire, and will be forced to use the harder option. Both decisions were taken on safety grounds, after it was found that neither the Moto2 spec Dunlop nor the MotoGP spec Bridgestone can handle race distance on the newly-resurfaced tarmac. The lighter, less powerful Moto3 bike are not affected, and the Moto3 race will run the scheduled length.

The compulsory pit stop to swap bikes, turning the race into a dry-weather flag-to-flag race for the first time in MotoGP history. This will be a repeat for the Australian circuit, as it also hosted the first flag-to-flag race where riders actually swapped bikes back in 2006, the year after the rules were first introduced. It turned out then that Phillip Island's narrow pit lane made the bike swaps rather hazardous, and the rules laid out for Sunday's MotoGP race will only make a tricky situation much, much worse. Bridgestone is unable to guarantee the safety of the tires beyond 14 laps, and so that means that all 23 MotoGP riders will be in the pits between the end of lap 12 and the end of lap 14. There is a good chance that the vast majority of the riders will come in either on lap 12 or lap 13, however, to give them the best shot at maintaining their position. With the dry surface dictating the lap time, there is no advantage to be gained from staying out an extra lap, or pitting early. An attempt to mitigate the danger, the speed limited area of the pit lane has been extended. However, this wil see bikes both braking closer to the racing line to pit, and rejoining at slower speed on the outside of the extremely fast first corner.

The problems with the tires were both predictable and avoidable. The Phillip Island circuit was resurfaced at the end of last year, creating a slightly grippier surface, but more importantly, a much faster track after most of the bumps had been removed. Phillip Island is always a critical circuit for tires, because of the high speeds involved, but with a smoother surface, the track was always going to be even quicker. The weight rules in both Moto2 and MotoGP have also changed, with the introduction of a combined rider/weight limit in Moto2, and the addition of 3kg extra to the MotoGP machines. More weight and more speed was always going to create more stress on the tires.

Earlier in the year, when World Superbike raced at the circuit, there were already problems with the spec Pirellis which that series runs, the World Supersport race being cut to 15 laps, as it had been a year earlier. Despite this warning, neither Dunlop nor Bridgestone performed tire testing there, though Dunlop had some data on the new surface from the Australian Superbike series. The irony is that MotoGP sent three riders to Argentina for tire testing at the new circuit (ostensibly at least, it became more of a spectacle to drum up enthusiasm for the circuit than a genuine tire test, given the greenness of the circuit),  a track where the series will only race in 2014. At a track where the series is set to race in 2013, where tire wear is known to be critical, and where a previous world championship series had also had problems, it appears to have been a very wrong decision not to go to Phillip Island for tire testing. While the single tire was introduced for reasons of cost cutting, not testing in Australia has proven to be a false economy.

The shortening of the race has demonstrated once again that being the single tire supplier to a series can easily turn into a PR disaster. When tire issues do occur, they generate much more negative publicity than they would receive when the tire supply is open. With the incentive of competition removed, the focus of a single tire supplier shifts to finding ways of justifying the amount spent on the series. That means that the focus on internal goals is much greater than that on pursuing performance. All costs are cut which are not perceived to be an immediate benefit for the tire supplier, and in this case, that has turned against the tire suppliers, both Bridgestone and Dunlop. They look as if they are incapable of building a tire to cope with the circumstances, which is not the case. They simply did not spend the money to find out whether they needed to.

The role of Dorna and the Safety Commission is also in question. Dorna has employed ex-racer Loris Capirossi specifically to liaise with Bridgestone and flag up potential issues at circuits. Nobody appears to have learned any lessons from the problems with World Superbike earlier in the year, and spotted that the new track surface, together with the increased weight of the bikes, could cause a potential issue.

Below are the press releases announcing the changes:


Information From Race Direction

MotoGP™ RACE SUNDAY 20th OCTOBER

Phillip Island

We have been notified by Bridgestone that they are unable to guarantee safety of their rear slick tyres beyond 14 laps. It has therefore been decided to make the following changes to the MotoGP class race in the interests of the safety of the riders.

1. The race distance will be 26 laps.

2. Every rider will be required to enter the pits and change to his second machine with fresh tyres at least once during the race.

3. No rider is permitted to make more than 14 laps on any one slick rear tyre.This means that a bike/tyre change before lap 12 will require a second bike/tyre change to finish the race.

4. Riders using “Factory” and “Satellite” machines will be required to use the “hard” option tyre (B51DR). Extra quantity will be allocated by Bridgestone.

5. Riders using CRT machines will be required to use CRT “hard” option tyre (B50DR). Extra quantity will be allocated by Bridgestone.

6. The pit lane speed limit zone will be extended both on entry and exit, and the exit route to rejoin the track will be marked by a white line in the runoff area. Crossing this line whilst rejoining the track from pit lane will result in a penalty.

Race Direction

19th. October 2013


Moto2™ RACE DISTANCE TISSOT AUSTRALIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX

Following a formal request from the Official tyre supplier for the Moto2™ class, Race Direction has taken the decision to adjust the race length for the Moto2 class for the Tissot Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, 2013, according to Article 1.17.2 of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.

The decision was taken in consultation with the Official Moto2 tyre supplier in the interests of rider safety.

The full race distance will be 13 laps, full Championship points will be awarded.

Teams are also reminded of the update to Article 2.5.4.9 of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations. Tyres must be used within the parameters as advised by the Official tyre supplier and approved by the Technical Director. Usage parameters include tyre pressure and temperature.

RACE DIRECTION

Phillip Island, 19th October 2013


Decision Of The Grand Prix Commission

Phillip Island, 19 October

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Executive Director, Sport), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in an electronic meeting held on 19th. October 2013 at Phillip Island, made the following decision:

Sporting Regulations

Effective Immediately

Currently the Race Direction is the only body competent to change the length of a race. This competence has been extended to authorise Race Direction to be able to change the length of a race outside of the minimum and maximum lengths defined elsewhere in the regulations.

Technical Regulations

Effective Immediately

There have been recent situations where teams and riders have ignored the recommendations of the official tyre suppliers on issues such as tyre pressures. It is suspected that this has led to cases of abnormal degradation of tyres affecting the safety of the riders.

A new regulation has been approved which will compel teams and riders to use the tyres according to the parameters agreed by the Technical Director and the organisers in consultation with the official tyre suppliers.

The full text of the regulation may be viewed shortly on:

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/official-documents-ccr/codes-and-regula...

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Comments

Thanks. My mistake, corrected now. Happy to have such nitpicking readers!

Total votes: 117

David do you know how would the fuel distribution be? Will they have full tanks on both bikes or only enough for one stint. Can make a lot of negative difference for Lorenzo [ takes away Lorenzos full tank speed advantage ] or vice-versa for Cal Crutchlow [full tank hampers his performance].

I bet Rossi would not have stopped if it was an option during the race. He is way too experienced on the old tyres. This could really change the championship prospects for Lorenzo, whichever way the bottle spins, I just hope its for the good and not a walkover for Marquez.

Total votes: 136

The fuel regulations only talk about the fuel tank capacity. That means that both bikes could run 21 liters, giving a race allowance of 42 liters. They won't, of course, they will start with 13 or so liters in each bike, which will be more than enough to get them to the end of each stint.

Total votes: 153

this is the best chance for a satellite / crt rider to be on podium with all these swapping bike stuff

Total votes: 143

The circumstances described read like an April fools joke - but it is October.
It has rained all day in Perth.

Total votes: 152

This is a mockery of spec tire rules, as a racer it should only be noted that the recommended stint is 12-14 laps riders should be allowed to stay out any given length of time, obviously a shredded or chunked tire anywhere but pit road entrance will cause a significant time loss as too swapping bikes. (Think F1 racing) Or they could mandate a simple you must switch bikes at any given period that allows rider strategy and avoids the pit lane congestion. Also every bike is going to get the wick turned up now due to an increase in fuel availability so expect faster times and even more pronounced tire wear as the Lean Burn system won't so necessary.

1. Spec tire rules are not a benefit to the series, it hurts tire development, and bike and chassis development. Everyone is forced to build one style of bike to work and the riders must adjust themselves.

2. Spec tires cost the manufacture more money (round about sort of way) They are required to build more tires and sell at a fixed cost. They cut back on R/D and they save money. Since the spec tire introduction how many times have we heard about tires with issues it is getting more frequent VS the first year or two we never heard of tire troubles. Bridgestone has cut back R/D and now they are behind the 8 ball playing a fine line of is it good enough to go race distance with every rider.

3. It eliminates the tire politics. I love the background to races whether whos on what tire or who's talking to which team. Everyone uses the same suspension brakes and tires where is the development??? And switching mid season always added a little excitement.

The series has been narrowly defined I say drop spec tires and rider penalties for in race issues that could be defined as anything short of Negligence, or actual aggressive acts towards another rider.

Total votes: 150

is the first thing that springs to mind. With the safety implications , re pit lane and entering and merging on the track, it would be logical to run the race in two heats . But that is beyond the thought processes of those f-------g Spanish morons who attempt to further denigrate GP motorcycle racing ( I won't use their commercial name.............)

And Capirossi as a " safety delegate ", what an oxymoron !!

Total votes: 138

+1
Are they trying to destroy this sport? First they penalize a guy for minor contact with another guy during a race, now this? If destroying the sport is their goal, they're making excellent progress!

Total votes: 138

I like the bit where they blame the teams for the tires coming apart. If you want the teams to get together and force another tire choice, that's the way to do it. They're the only ones who have a chance to.

Dorna is highly culpable in all of this too. So much for their 'safety' program. The data was public about the difference in tire wear, and yet they didn't do anything about it.

So, the rider is the one who pays the price for the corporate bullshit. They take additional risks in an already risky business because some corporate hacks were playing politics and bean counter.

As always, Dorna puts their best foot forward.

Total votes: 139

This should help Nicky as his remaining engines will probably only last 13 laps anyway....j/k

I think it will add some excitement but what if it rains?

Total votes: 123

Should have been given an rcv to play at pi earlier in the year!

Total votes: 122

It looks to me like Dorna have replaced one dangerous situation for a different dangerous situation. If the race format really needs to be modified so radically as to mandate a bike change mid way why not search for an alternative radical solution that doesn't introduce more danger?

How about two 10 lap races back to back, with the results averaged or half points given for each of the races? They would still fit into the allotted TV time, the riders could use the tires of their choice, and there wouldn't be any additional pit lane dangers. Yes it's unorthodox, but it's not like the official solution isn't.

Total votes: 149

What if it rains tomorrow? Will the races revert to proper length? Will they still have to come in to change tyres? Will there be enough rain tyres? I have a bad feeling about this...

Get Fixed Soon Scott.

Total votes: 149

This is a World championship, with the worlds best technical suppliers, isn't it? Please tell me it is!!!
Btw, gutted for Scott, hope the wrist heals soon!

Total votes: 132

The weather forecast, according to what the official commentators were saying, was for rain at about 4:15pm on Sunday. That would mean 15 minutes in the dry and then swap to wet weather setup bikes, that will have been setup just like the dry one that started the race. I don't know what's more dangerous, if swapping bikes in a three lap window or having two starts, with the usual turn one pushing and shoving. It will be interesting.

Total votes: 125

...one thought occurs: Nakagami must surely be wringing his hands with glee.

Total votes: 138

With pit-stops I mean. Would be more interesting maybe if they were allowed to use both compounds and werent restricted to maximum of 14 laps.
I expect some of the riders will practice the changeover manoeuvre during warm-up tomorrow.

Will we see any pit-lane overtakes? Will there be ride-through penalties for "unsafe realeases", as in F1? WIll Rossi lose too much time doing his pre-mount ceremony when changing to bike No.2? (grabbing foot-pegs etc)

Also, this is a total joke really and sort of embarrassing for the sport. A 13 lap Moto-2 race? SHould they get 1/2 points?
Capirex and his safety crew have made an arse of this one, he needs to get the chop. I just hope there are no big accidents at Turn 1 with pit-exit, or no big tire failures at the big, fast turns 3, 11 & 12.

Total votes: 135

( oops, Moto GP ) riders need to show they have cajones ( and unity ) off the bikes and tell the morons AFTER warm up " Hey Mo.... f......, this is how it will be, two 12 -13 lap heats, same bikes, just tire changes, no other work permitted on the bikes. Any other " solution ", we DO NOT go to the grid. Finito ! "

That is the most equitable and safest solution, much the same same as a red flagged race and restart. Usual wet weather rules apply as to bike changes.

And before Japan, ALL RIDERS need to get together and organize a wholesale clean out ( with replacements ) of all the worthless scum who have allowed circumstances to degenerate to this level of incompetence. The threat of a 3 class boycott in Japan and Valencia would have some impetus......a better example of a gun to the head would be hard to find !

Total votes: 129

( oops, Moto GP ) riders need to show they have cajones ( and unity ) off the bikes and tell the morons AFTER warm up " Hey Mo.... f......, this is how it will be, two 12 -13 lap heats, same bikes, just tire changes, no other work permitted on the bikes. Any other " solution ", we DO NOT go to the grid. Finito ! "

That is the most equitable and safest solution, much the same same as a red flagged race and restart. Usual wet weather rules apply as to bike changes.

And before Japan, ALL RIDERS need to get together and organize a wholesale clean out ( with replacements ) of all the worthless scum who have allowed circumstances to degenerate to this level of incompetence. The threat of a 3 class boycott in Japan and Valencia would have some impetus......a better example of a gun to the head would be hard to find !

Total votes: 134

We finally get to watch a dry race without the fuel limits ruining everything.....and it's at PI.

MotoGP looks like a cluster, but the fans have finally won a small battle against the fuel limits. Stop all tire testing with immediate effect :)

Total votes: 138

"The full race distance will be 13 laps, full Championship points will be awarded."
But I agree, it should be half points.

Total votes: 135

1. Dorna must be happy Casey Stoner isn't racing anymore! Could you imagine the opinion he would spew to the media about this BS format at his home race!

2. Maybe Hayden should bolt in engine number 6 for this race since he needs 2 bikes here and a pit lane start maybe not as bad at this race?

3. I read that Marquez's bike got destroyed yesterday. Does he have a complete second bike?

4. This solution is pretty unbelievable.

Total votes: 131

Make it a 22 lap race with pits tops after 11 or something. Moto2 is always one of the best races so I a feel a bit short changed with my grandstand pass.

I actually don't mind the idea of pit stops, adds a bit of randomness and intrigue to the whole affair. What I don't like though is that they just swap bikes, would be better if they instituted a way to change wheels without it taking too long.

Total votes: 131

An absolute disgrace. And now with tyre competition banned by organisers, the failing parties cannot truly be held accountable (by means of a solid thrashing on the circuit). Instead we all lose with these hacky half-races.

I feel most for the riders. Not only is their safety ultimately on the line, but I'm guessing if it weren't for money & politics, they would prefer to not race at all.

Total votes: 115