Sunday Summary at Austin: Of Cracking Under Pressure & Accidental Tire Management

04/14/2014 @ 1:20 am, by David Emmett44 COMMENTS

Sunday Summary at Austin: Of Cracking Under Pressure & Accidental Tire Management 2014 Sunday COTA Austin MotoGP Scott Jones 16 635x423

Normally it takes bad weather to shake things up in a MotoGP race. For most of the day, it looked like the rain was ready to start at any time, but in the end it stayed pretty much completely dry, bar a quick and meaningless shower just before the Moto2 race started.

Regardless of what the weather decided to do, we still ended up with a bizarre MotoGP race anyway. The weirdness started even before the race had started, and continued pretty much all the way to the very last corner.

Jorge Lorenzo came to Texas knowing he faced an uphill challenge. Last year at the Circuit of the Americas, Marc Marquez had run away with the race, with only Dani Pedrosa able to follow. Lorenzo had put up a valiant struggle, but had been unable to prevent a Repsol Honda whitewash.

In 2014, Lorenzo had come facing an even tougher task, if that were possible. After crashing out at the first race, Lorenzo knew he had to score as many points as he could without taking too many risks.

He would have to find a very fine balance between pushing hard to try to catch – and who knows, maybe even beat – the Repsol Hondas, and ensuring he didn’t risk ending up with a second zero to go with the crash at Qatar.

The extra tension that created may have played a factor in what happened next. Lorenzo came to the grid with more bugs collected on his visor than usual. As he sat waiting for the official holding the red flag to leave the grid, he did something he never normally did while waiting for the start.

To ensure he got the best start possible, Lorenzo decided to remove the first tear-off from his visor, to clear up his vision. While he was pulling the clear plastic strip from his visor, the official hurried off the grid ahead of the start, as the rules dictate. When Lorenzo looked back up, he saw the official gone, and in a moment of confusion, got ready to start.

The start procedure specified in the rulebook states that once the official leaves the grid, the red starting lights will come on for between 2 and 5 seconds.

Once the red lights go out, the race officially starts, and riders are free to chase into Turn 1 as fast as they can. That light change is crucial, the lights imprinted onto the retinas and brains of world championship motorcycle racers around the globe. Once the lights change, you go.

Lorenzo saw the lights change, and he went. Unfortunately for Lorenzo, the change he saw was from off to on, and not from on to off. That mistake certainly gave him a free run at Turn 1, but it also meant he had performed a jump start, and so would have to come into the pits for a ride through penalty.

It was one of the strangest jump starts that most people can remember seeing in a great many years. Jump starts are not uncommon occurrences – if anything, the surprising thing is that they do not happen more often, given the extreme tenseness of the situation.

Most jump starts, though, involve a rider rolling forward an inch or two a fraction before the lights go out. This was not one of those jump starts. Lorenzo took off like a scalded cat just as the red light came on, a full three or four seconds before the rest departed the grid.

The Movistar Yamaha man was halfway to Turn 1 before the lights had switched off and the rest of the grid powered off the line. Most jump starts are hundredths of a second too early. Lorenzo’s start at COTA was, as one commentator put it, so early you could have measured it with a calendar.

His start left the rest of the riders mystified. When Lorenzo came past, a few were tempted to follow – Marquez’s first thought was that he had messed up his start once again, and would find himself behind Lorenzo – but they all held back once they saw Lorenzo shaking his head.

The Spaniard knew immediately he had made a major mistake, holding back for just a fraction before realizing that his best course of action was to push as hard as possible for the first lap, to try to limit the time he would lose during the ride through.

Lorenzo’s problem had been one of distraction, the former world champion admitted. He had been slightly nervous going to the grid, and when his visor collected more flies than he was comfortable with, he decided to remove a tear-off.

This was something he never normally did, Lorenzo said, and because of that, he had lost focus for a fraction of a second. When he looked back up, the front flag man had gone, and when the lights came on, Lorenzo took off.

Reaction to Lorenzo’s mistake was almost universal disbelief. None of the other riders we asked understood how he could make such a mistake. There was nothing odd or unusual about the track that might trigger such a false start.

Marc Marquez suggested that the difficulty of Turn 1 – up a very steep hill to a very tight corner – made the riders a little more nervous about the first corner, but that could not explain going so incredibly early. Bradley Smith, upon hearing Lorenzo’s explanation for his jump start, reacted with just a single word: “Oh.”

Lorenzo claimed that the start procedure had been different, that normally the lights are red when the riders arrive at the grid, but that seemed a strange conception to be harboring. The rulebook is clear on the procedure: the red lights are only illuminated prior to the start for between two and five seconds.

They are not used before or after. This was a case of brain fade, nothing more, nothing less, perhaps engendered by nervous tension. Lorenzo’s biggest mistake was to break his routine, removing a tear-off while he sat waiting on the grid. That broke his concentration, and forced him into an error.

It was the second in a row, after his first-lap crash at Qatar. He had at least scored points – after his ride through, Lorenzo worked his way through the field to make it up to 10th – but the six points he secured will do little to help him tackle Marc Marquez.

Lorenzo emphasized that the season was still long – 16 races remain, and a total of 400 points – so he had not yet written off his chances of winning the title. It would, however, be difficult, he conceded. Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg was a little more optimistic, though still full aware of the task in hand. “Anything can still happen,” the Dutchman said.

Even without the jump start, Lorenzo would have found it hard to take the fight to Marquez. Taking away the 23 seconds extra his ride through cost, plus the 6 or so seconds lost to backmarkers as he fought his way forward, that still left Lorenzo with deficit of some 20 seconds to Marc Marquez. It is indicative of the mountain he still has to climb.

The weirdness was not confined to Jorge Lorenzo, however. Once the race got underway, the only slice of normality appeared to be the Repsol Hondas disappearing at the front.

Marc Marquez cleared off, Dani Pedrosa tried to follow, but eventually had to admit defeat, the pair finishing 20 seconds ahead of the man in 3rd. That was very much in line with expectations. What happened behind most certainly was not.

Andrea Iannone led the chase for the Repsols on the Pramac Ducati, with Cal Crutchlow close on his heels. Valentino Rossi joined the fray, along with Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovizioso.

Cal Crutchlow was the first to drop off the front, pitting for a new rear tire, then going back out only to suffer a massive crash in which he dislocated his finger. But with Iannone, Rossi and Bradl all battling for 3rd, trouble started to arise just before the halfway mark.

Valentino Rossi was the first man to run into trouble, Rossi’s plummeting like a stone after a very strong start. His lap times went from high 2’04s to mid 2’07s in just a couple of laps, with rider after rider streaming past him.

Andrea Iannone was the next to suffer, losing a couple of seconds and falling back into the clutches of Stefan Bradl, before dropping even further back to end the race in 7th. And Stefan Bradl was the final victim at the front, holding out to near the end, losing out only once he got caught up in battle with Bradley Smith.

The problem was simply one of tires. Not, as many had feared, the rear tire, but instead the harder of the two front options. Most riders suffered severe wear on the front tire, making it harder and harder to manage the bike.

Valentino Rossi was one of the more serious victims, with Colin Edwards also in a bad shape. Andrea Iannone had similar problems, while for Stefan Bradl, it meant he had no chance of attempting to attack Dovizioso. Pol Espargaro, after a strong start to the race, ran into the same trouble and had to let his teammate Bradley Smith go.

The race turned into a war of tire management, though the victors in that battle won more by accident than by planning. Andrea Dovizioso had been ill all weekend, and knowing that Austin was the most physical track on the circuit, paced himself early in the race.

He let the front group go a little, benefiting when they succumbed to tire wear. This wasn’t a conscious strategy for tire wear, but Dovizioso had made a virtue of his weakened condition. The Ducati rider was forced to manage his own fitness, and in doing so, ended up with more tire.

Bradley Smith benefited from his own mistake in the early laps of the race. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider overheated his brakes in the first couple of laps, as well as cooking his tires.

Realizing he had to be more careful, he backed off a little, tangling with his rookie teammate Pol Espargaro. Riding more calmly his brakes and tire recovered, and Smith had a bit more front tire when everyone else had destroyed theirs.

Their enforced calmness paid off handsomely. Andrea Dovizioso put the Ducati on the podium, the first dry weather podium for the Italian factory since Misano in 2012. It was a token of just how much the Ducati has improved this year, but also a major boost for Dovizioso himself.

It broadens the Italian’s options come contract time, but also offers hope of more improvement later in the year. For many years now, the Ducati project has been heading for the rocks, but it appears that the latest round of personnel changes are starting to get the oil tanker turned around. There is hope again.

Bradley Smith did well out of his patience too, scoring his best ever result in the premier class. He could even have gone one better, finding himself in a duel with Stefan Bradl as the German’s front Bridgestone started to drop. Smith attempted a fearless pass on Bradl through the esses, but could not quite make it stick.

The pair of them dropped off the back of Dovizioso, losing a shot at the podium but still ending up with Smith’s best ever result in the premier class. There has been much criticism of Smith in the past, but only now is he starting to shake off his image of not being fast or forceful enough.

Even the race winner managed to nearly throw it all away in the last corner. With the race effectively in the bag, Marc Marquez nearly lost the front into the final corner, losing time and going very slowly. But by this time, the gap was more then enough to cruise home to the win.

The 2014 Grand Prix of the Americas turned into something of a comedy of errors. However, only a few participants found themselves doing much laughing.

The one exception was Marc “laughing boy” Marquez, who leaves Austin with two race wins and two poles to his name. Whenever pressure is applied to Marquez, he just shrugs it off. This could be a long year for everyone who isn’t a reigning world champion.

There were two more races at COTA, providing fantastic fun for the viewers. Both the Moto3 and Moto2 racers saw popular young riders winning, but that is a story for another day.

Photo: © 2014 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. captnqrtrs says:

    Given the extreme “tenseness” of any lineup situation on adheres to the probability of a jump start occurance, the only differentiating factor is ALL of these professionals, practice said lineups & releases, only to do so w/o a lightbar ahead of them prior to the actual race…

    this isn’t cracking before pressure, this, if any, is an enger winner looking to get back to his humble abode …

    same goes for, if not more so… Valentino Rossi.

    Carry on…

  2. smiler says:

    Nothing like making no sense.

    Dorna – comedy of errors. It is a shame that the April fool concerning Red Bull and Dorna is not true. 5 accidents, almost exclusively due to tyres, riders coming in to change tyres during the race.
    That was after Bridgestone bring tyres spec’d for the previous year that favour Honda.

  3. Joff says:

    lorenzo was bound to screw up a start at some point, given he pretty much gets the whole shot from 2nd or 3rd, or even 4-6th on the grid. he’s made his own luck off the starts but been very close before, that was craziness.

    motoGP needs to end the tyre monopoly. it is beyond ridiculous to run a series with one manufacturer and of a number of things hurting the sport, it’s by far the biggest and most crucial to the race itself.

  4. Joff says:

    also isn’t it more just that COTA favors Honda? lorenzo stood to benefit the most off the 2013 tyre but it’s a moot point at a track pretty much made for the Honda’s strengths.

  5. David says:

    It’s sad the premier motorcycle racing series in the world is so boring. Only real die hard fans can come close to forcing themselves to watch.

    Even the TV coverage has nothing of interest to talk about before the race. When I turned on the TV the bikes were halfway through the warm up lap. Evidently there is nothing of interest for the announcers to talk about before the race starts. We don’t even get to see the podium celebration. LOL….very sad motorcycle racing will always be the bastard child of all racing.

    At least in Formula One we get 30 minutes of coverage ,before the race, about the teams and drivers and, more importantly, the developments about the cars in the way of specs and even rules.

    There must not be anything of interest about these new MotoGp bikes. Maybe motorcycle racing has reached it’s peak. Nothing left for design and engineers to push their limits.

    Just a rehash of the same old frame and engine configurations that have been used for awhile now. The only challenge to a team is how to make the bike work with crappy tires.

    Looks like Honda knows this and has pressured DORNA to this new rule structure.

    YAY for Honda……an even easier 2014 Championship this year.

  6. stevenk27 says:

    I really don’t think it’s fair to place the blame on HRC.
    The tyres and Dorna’s dictatorship is ruining MotoGP.

    n F1 they have a one make tyre supplier and their racing is competitive. Bridgestone needs to up their game, offer a decent tyre that doesn’t favour one specific maunfacturer. The 2013 tyre definately favoured Yamaha with Honda experiencing chatter.
    I agree on a bit more info on the technicalities of MotoGP, showing us whats under the fairings.
    Credit to Dovi but he is still not on a factory bike, riding with Open class advantages. Takes away from the result IMO.

  7. L2C says:

    Jorge Lorenzo has lost his mojo. I worried about this when he started losing his sh-t all over the place during preseason testing. Now it’s official. The good thing about this is that Argentina will be a new track for everybody. Maybe that will be enough of a breath of fresh air for him to begin to get his rhythm back.

    Lorenzo’s a cool cat. His ego has been a little overblown lately, so after these recent mishaps, maybe it’s now back to a more manageable level. Confidence and ego are not the same thing.

    But Lorenzo has to adapt to the new tires, perhaps modify his riding style as his teammate Rossi has done. Rossi is not a master of the game for merely winning races and championships. He’s a master because he does what it takes to improve and remain competitive. Hopefully Lorenzo is now learning those same lessons.

  8. chaz michael michaels says:

    Ok then…so how did MM not obliterate his front tire? (Pedrosa seemed ok too). He didn’t blast off to a 20-30 second lead by nursing his tires.

    There’s no explanation so far. Everyone destroyed their front tire, satalite honda riders included. ….Dovi didn’t obliterate his front tire because he spent the first part of the race trying to meter out his energy as he was still recovering from the flu.

    In other words, why did this tire fiasco affect everyone but MM?

    This kid may never lose again. haha

  9. Joe Sixpack says:

    Please.

    If you think Bridgestone is making tires that work for Yamaha in 2013 with no edge grip, you’re out of your gourd.

    Here’s the deal: Dorna has decided that what is good for the Championship and the sport is a dominant rider like Rossi. However, Rossi was unique in that, unlike Doohan, he actually prefers racing against someone else than be circuiting 20 seconds ahead of his next competitor. Lorenzo, despite mimicking Rossi in many ways (leathers, post race celebrations, etc.) hasn’t the Q factor that Dorna would like. So here’s Marquez, who apparently is the next racer to trot out to bring viewership in, and more importantly for the manufacturers, people through the doors of the dealerships.

    So Honda gets Bridgestone to make tires that suit the Honda, and this year they’ve succeeded.

    The shame in all this, besides the obvious manipulation of the sport (1997 Formula1 Championship anyone?) is that truly talented riders are held back from their chance to win.

  10. n/a says:

    Lorenzo saying he had too many mosquito’s on his visor is going to be a classic, just like Stoner’s ambition outweighed talent comment, lol.

    Great Ride for The Maniac Joe, hope he can keep that up.

  11. Crim says:

    Conspiracy theories make good reading but don’t hold up in real life. Due to the Honda’s chassis geometry, it is not as hard on tires. VR stated earlier that he had Yamaha raise the bike a bit to help weight transfer on braking and turn in. That allows him to be faster but also works the front tire more.

    I agree that Dorna is screwing the pooch with their rules. It would be nice to see them all on spec bikes so that we could see just who the real Aliens are. The 2016 spec electronics rule might go along way toward this end.

  12. Jw says:

    David,

    Thanks for the good read, again. In fairness Marc messed up last year and still won the championship. So Jorge will have to pull out of it. If anything I think his ego is so sensitive that due to his dethroning last year he may never pull out of this funk. When Marc looses he just smiles and moves on to the next task at hand. I would be very surprised if Honda offers Jorge a ride in 15. IMHO

  13. BBQdog says:

    @David: clearly you haven’t seen the Moto3 race. This was by far the best of the whole event.
    As far as MotoGP I fully agree. I think that after just 2 races the championship is already more or less decided unless Marquez does something very stupid. The problem in nearly all classes is too many spanish riders, teams and/or money. Especially the combination spanish+Honda seems to destroy all change of a good competition. The whole MotoGP should get more international and equal. A real international organisation and less influence of the big factories, especially Honda.

  14. smiler says:

    Cannot understand the idea the tyres favoured Hinda. Hinda had 3 in the top 5 last year on last year’s tyres. So it might be that The track favours Honda but it would appear the tyres do as well. Yamaha both complained about bringing the 2013 tyre.
    So Yamahaha, hit by a double whammy. Given the stacked odds it is no wonder Lorenzo was feeling the pressure and Rossi tried whatever he could.
    It was so dull I did not even watch it, watched the WSBK, SSK and WSS races. Even watched F1 for the first time in 10 years.
    If you look back to when Hinda entered MotoGP, it is really only Rossi that upset Honda dominating the series. All credit to them but yet again Dorna buckles and has allowed Hinda too big a stake in the series. It just does not make for good entertainment, which is what it is.
    Suzuki will provide a fight but may mix for the middle places. Aprilia even less so.
    Spec software might make a difference but Honda will just use even more cash on other parts.
    If a maximum budget was used and each team could use it as they wished this would provide better racing?

  15. TysonR6 says:

    I don’t want to single out anyone for personal attacks but there is so much crap being spouted in the comments sections

    Formula 1 is competitive? The same guy won the last 4 championships and last year he won more races than anyone else in a single season. Pirelli had tires exploding at 5 races last year and that is with the benefit of pitstops for tire changes.

    MotoGP had the championship go to the last race of the season in 2013, Marquez ended up with less wins than Lorenzo. The first race in Qatar was epic but people here are saying that racing is boring because of Bridgestone. Really?

    I went to watch the race and enjoyed it a lot, the changes in the final few laps kept me guessing.

    The article above says that some riders saved their tires in the start of the race and came on strong on the end. Call me wrong but that is what I want to see! Bridgestone has always been ridiculed for making tires that last the whole race without dropping off. One race where they do drop off, some riders don’t manage the tires and everyone says the sky is falling.

    Bridgestone has dropped the ball a couple of times, last year in Australia being a prime example but overall they do a good job. Personally I think if they do leave MotoGP with whoever comes in it will be worse and the small teams will suffer most as I can’t see Dunlop or Pirelli making it free for teams like Bridgestone do.

    Be careful what you wish for!

  16. Mike says:

    @TysonR6

    “Formula 1 is competitive? The same guy won the last 4 championships…”

    Two of those Championships were won at the last race with less 5 points between the leaders. No, not competitive at all. May as well not show up.

  17. Eddie says:

    stop blaming Honda when your favorite teams/riders are not winning. it’s a tired old excuse.

  18. n/a says:

    I agree with ^Eddie^.

  19. “Smith attempted a fearless pass on Bradl through the esses, but could not quite make it stick.”

    This was the highlight of the race for me. Those few corners showcased magnificent riding by the both of them. Well and truly done!

    “Two of those Championships were won at the last race with less 5 points between the leaders.”

    Yes, and the 2012 season started off with the first seven races having seven different winners. The 2014 season has certainly shaken Red Bull’s capacity to win thus far. The Mercs are absolutely mighty and both Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur featured some incredible battles. While I might not be a huge fan of the 2014 engine note, the racing has been outstanding!

  20. L2C says:

    “Yes, and the 2012 season started off with the first seven races having seven different winners. The 2014 season has certainly shaken Red Bull’s capacity to win thus far. The Mercs are absolutely mighty and both Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur featured some incredible battles. While I might not be a huge fan of the 2014 engine note, the racing has been outstanding!”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Trane. Though I have to say, the race in Melbourne pissed me off something serious. I’d say the 2014 season had a rough start, but the races in Malaysia and Bahrain were very good indeed. The race in Bahrain was exceptional. I’ve watched it many times.

    Definitely looking forward to the race in China this weekend.

  21. “Though I have to say, the race in Melbourne pissed me off something serious. ”

    I was distraught over Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification. Also, while I appreciate the stewards trying to keep the racing clean, I think they’ve gone a wee bit over the top with handing out penalties. Ricciardo’s race was already so completely ruined after the front wheel/unsafe release fiasco that a 10-place grid penalty for Bahrain was simply ridiculous.

    Anyway, Ricciardo’s my current shining star. Anybody who can smile through that much bad luck has got to be a wonderful person. Agreed about the quality of the Bahrain race. That must rank as one of the best races that F1 has seen in many years. You know when Alonso punches the air while crossing the finish line in mid-pack that it was a hard-fought race. :)

  22. Jw says:

    Motogp is in trouble when fans chat about other forms of racing under a Motogp story… LOL

  23. L2C says:

    @ Trane Francks

    “You know when Alonso punches the air while crossing the finish line in mid-pack that it was a hard-fought race. :)”

    That was one of the many standout details wasn’t it? :-)

    @ Jw

    Hopefully not as much trouble as we imagine. ;-)

  24. “Hopefully not as much trouble as we imagine. ;-)”

    Agreed. Good racing is good racing. Where good racing is concerned, tangents are always a possibility.

    For seat-of-the-pants excitement, there was nothing to compete with Moto3 this weekend. In Moto2, Maverick Viñales rode one of the more spectacular races I’ve seen. It was a pure breakaway. MM93 did his usual and broke a number of rider spirits.

    I don’t think that MotoGP is in any particular trouble, but I do hope that the 20-second gap from the Hondas to the rest of the field is dramatically reduced in short order.

  25. Jw says:

    I realize I need to engage more and be a better fan in the other gp races and not focus so much on the big class.

  26. Neil says:

    Just a few comments/opinions :

    1) I feel MotoGp should have more than one tire manufacturer. With respect to cutting costs, everyone knows that with competition you get a better product….as seen in the past. Who is policing Bridgestone? Bridgestone?

    2) After seeing Lorenzo make a jump start or with any jump start, I don’t feel a ride through penalty is adequate especially since he finished back up in ninth place ???

    3) Sad to hear Colin will retire after this year, wish him the best of luck. U.S. needs more talent in the GP.

    4) It would not surprise me to see Marquez on the podium for every race this year, if not WIN every race this year on the Honda…..

    Thanks…

  27. DLB says:

    This is my third year watching MotoGP so I’m no expert. Could someone provide a clear, scientific explanation of how Bridgestone tires favor HRC’s geometry/power delivery/etc. and maybe even why these factors are so difficult for other manufacturers to adopt?

    Is this actually a fact or just moaning by people who support other teams? I can certainly see how a course can favor one manufacturer over another but don’t really understand the underlying conspiracy theory that Bridgestone tires favor HRC.

  28. meatspin says:

    moto2 and 3 are mostly spec series and to me the racing is way more exciting to watch.

    i dont care what brand of tire a rider is using.

  29. Judge says:

    1. I guess this is a physics question. So you have a fixed amount of resources and a fixed distance. Say each rider did the race by themselves and were timed individually. Why would someone who “paced” themselves in the first half of the race have a quicker time than someone who was forced to pace themselves in the second half of the race because they had not for the first?

    2. MM definitely didn’t pace himself and rode faster to the finish line. His tires obviously experiencing more force and wear because he rode the same distance MUCH faster. I guess we are to believe that his mega amount of finesse explains this huge gap?

  30. @Neil: “After seeing Lorenzo make a jump start or with any jump start, I don’t feel a ride through penalty is adequate especially since he finished back up in ninth place ???”

    So, what you’re basically saying is that any rider who is strong enough to start from last place and work up into the top 10 should be disallowed or otherwise penalized. By the time Lorenzo finished his ride-through, he was dead last. Do you seriously believe that a brain fart on the grid that did not endanger anybody at all is worth more than potentially ruining the current race? I don’t think additional sanctions, fines or grid-place penalties are warranted for a case of twitchy nerves. IMO, YMMV and all that.

    @DLB: “Could someone provide a clear, scientific explanation of how Bridgestone tires favor HRC’s geometry/power delivery/etc. and maybe even why these factors are so difficult for other manufacturers to adopt? “

    The Hondas and Yamahas were designed with different riding philosophies in mind. The Yamahas were designed mostly around Lorenzo’s preferred riding style, which amounts to lighter braking events and carrying higher corner speeds. The Hondas are more of a ‘point-and-squirt’ bike, where the rider brakes heavier, steers the bike through the corner by sliding the rear tire (with a lower corner speed than the Yamaha) and then stands it up as quickly as possible to accelerate hard out of the turn.

    The 2013-spec Bridgestone tires were very well suited to the Yamaha philosophy because the carcass design and rubber compounds offered good stability at the maximum lean angles required for the Yamaha style of riding. The 2014-spec tire has been changed in its design and now offers less of that precious edge grip that is required to get the Yamahas through the corners at the speeds and lean angles they favour. Since the Hondas generally don’t get cranked over at far, they’re faring with the 2014-spec tire much better.

    Personally speaking, I don’t see the issue as being conspiratorial at all. In any spec-tire series, it’s up to the engineers to tackle the ‘problem’ of getting the most out of the tires and being competitive with them. It’s also a good measure of a rider’s adaptability where coming to terms with tire changes are concerned. Some riders struggle with a change of tire and never adapt well to them. In 2011, Toni Elias came into MotoGP as the reigning Moto2 champion, yet he struggled badly with the tires. Despite riding the excellent LCR Honda that year, his season was miserable and he finished in 15th place. Elias moved to WorldSBK in mid-2013 and seems to get along with the Pirelli spec tires much better, not having finished outside of the top 10 in all the races he completed.

  31. “Why would someone who “paced” themselves in the first half of the race have a quicker time than someone who was forced to pace themselves in the second half of the race because they had not for the first? ”

    The difference is that the former is preserving the tire so that it does not ‘go off’ before the end of the race. The latter is more of a damage-control scenario, where the rider has already used up the tire and now needs to slow down to try to make it to the end. The guys who know how to be gentle on the tires while still going fast are the ones who inevitably win.

    Setup can also have a significant effect on tire performance/wear. Altering the frame geometry to quicken turn-in, for example, may lead to more front tire wear and make preserving the tire for the latter stages of the race more challenging.

    MM just seems to have the whole package: Great engineers, balanced setup, finesse and truck-loads of talent. I sincerely hope that other riders get it happening to a similar degree, lest we see a series where MM just wins everything all the time.

  32. DLB says:

    @Trane Francks: Thank you very much for the explanation. I don’t really see a conspiracy here either. It seems like all of these bikes are infinitely adjustable and part of the game is for the engineers and riders to determine a set up that works. Also, I don’t understand why Dorna would be motivated to give HRC such a huge edge when they just spent so much time, energy, and credibility trying to make the field more even.

    One more question: has everyone always had to use the same tires in MotoGP? It seems to me that there are huge incentives for tire companies to compete against each other in this venue and it would push the technology. If Lorenzo didn’t like the 2014 Bridgestones, he could just go back to the 2013 spec or use Pirellis or ???

  33. “has everyone always had to use the same tires in MotoGP?”

    No. In the past, there were the so-called tire wars where Dunlop, Michelin and Bridgestone all competed against each other in the premier class. Teams were free to choose whichever of the approved brands they wanted and, optionally, could commission the tire manufacturers to build special tires for bikes and riders. Some would argue that the racing was better, but nobody could disagree that it was more expensive. Special tires cost special money and the testing involved was non-trivial.

    When the Nanny State decided that tobacco manufacturers were no longer welcome to peddle their wares by advertising on bike livery and whatnot, a lot of the sponsorship money went out of the sport. Ever since then, smaller teams have struggled to even make the grid let alone commission special tires. Even Yamaha struggled in recent seasons to find a title sponsor.

    With the efforts to reduce costs, spec tires and spec ECUs were a given.

    “If Lorenzo didn’t like the 2014 Bridgestones, he could just go back to the 2013 spec or use Pirellis or ???”

    Unfortunately for Lorenzo, no. With a spec-tire series, everybody must run whatever tire is approved for that particular season. Unfortunately, however, spec tires don’t always guarantee best quality: Last year’s Phillip Island debacle was a disgrace that should never have happened. Pirelli in both WorldSBK and F1, Dunlop in Moto2 and Bridgestone in MotoGP have all come under fire for producing tires that were not up to par.

  34. DLB says:

    @Trane Francks: Again, thank you very much for your explanation. It seems I missed the heyday of MotoGP racing but frankly, I find the talent, technology, and personalities fascinating and expect to continue to watch for many years to come.

    I can see how Dorna is ham-handed and how that can be frustrating for everyone involved. Hopefully, the squeaky clean image of the sport’s stars will attract wide appeal and eventually generous sponsors.

  35. Jw says:

    Trane, thanks for all the tire talk. But..

    Didn’t Rossi say his front went to crap? If so was it the same choice MM used on the Honda front?

    I would think the smoother Yamaha style would be kinder on the front tire, I struggle with how MM can ride what looks to be very aggressive and yet saves his tires from failure.

    I hate seeing so many riders have tire issues and crashes, this seems to keep HRC way up front.

  36. Just Crashed Yesterday says:

    @chaz michael michaels

    “Ok then…so how did MM not obliterate his front tire? (Pedrosa seemed ok too). He didn’t blast off to a 20-30 second lead by nursing his tires.”

    I think HRC had done something with the braking procedure. Something may related to the pneumatic valves, their electronics combined with the seamless gearbox to create a finest “engine braking” in compared with other bikes in MotoGP.

    P/S: Pardon me for my English, I come from South east asia.

  37. crshnbrn says:

    Trane Francks, “Last year’s Phillip Island debacle was a disgrace that should never have happened. Pirelli in both WorldSBK and F1, Dunlop in Moto2 and Bridgestone in MotoGP have all come under fire for producing tires that were not up to par.”

    Hopefully the sanctioning bodies and tire manufacturers learned from the 2013 PI tire debacles that it is a good idea to test in advance of a race at either a new track or one that has been resurfaced since the last race.
    With WSBK under Dorna’s control, it is inexcusable that the Moto2 and MotoGP teams did not test at PI after the WSBK teams had issues at PI with their Pirelli tires earlier in the year.

  38. crshnbrn says:

    Neil, “It would not surprise me to see Marquez on the podium for every race this year”

    Except for his DNF at Mugello, and his DQ at Phillip Island attributable to the tire debacle, Marquez was on the podium for all of the other 16 of 18 races in 2013. That is tuff to beat.

  39. @Jw: “Didn’t Rossi say his front went to crap? If so was it the same choice MM used on the Honda front?”

    Yep, Rossi did, indeed, say his front went to crap. He also happens to be using an aggressive front geometry to give him the braking performance and turn-in that he prefers. He’s always been one of the great late brakers, which is somewhat different than the lighter trail-braking that Lorenzo favours. Rossi’s tie-up with his new chief engineer and giving the electronics guy more input has given Rossi quite a different setup on the bike than he used and struggled with last year.

    The choice of tires is only part of it. Geometry, weight distribution, rider style, rider weight, electronics, etc., all play a part in how good — and bad — things are with the tires.

  40. Jwj says:

    @ Trane

    Thanks, you are a solid contributor to A&R, always willing and straight up. One time you kinda disappeared, I wondered if you were gonna come back, glad you did.

  41. Jw says:

    Oops that was from Jw

  42. @Jw: Thanks for the very, very kind words. I really appreciate it.

    Cheers.

  43. L2C says:

    People are so sweet and considerate of one another here. Brings tears to my eyes. ;-)

  44. Oh you guys at Asphalt & Rubber really suck, seriously you suck so bad! I’m just getting a chance to watch this race now, and you ruined it completely for me by posting the results, HOW DARE YOU!

    Do you guys know who I am?! Do you know that I work for a major brokerage house, with HEAVY political connections, one of the biggest brokerage houses in the country actually (built on 80s drug/cocaine money) and we are not the kind of people you want to piss off.

    Seriously I have connections to some of the biggest banks in the country, I’ve dined with Jamie diamond, and was once considered for a position at Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein shook my hand, but apparently I wasn’t ‘Jewish enough’. But I was almost in, could have been a made man for life. *le-sigh*

    Anyway.

    The next time you decide to post Moto GP results within 260 hours of the actual event, just remember I can crush you with one phone call, have your press privileges revoked and your motorcycle licenses suspended indefinitely.

    -SARCASM-

    Like I said after the first round, this season is over, and Marc Marquez won, and not because he’s on a Honda, but because he is FAR and AWAY the best rider in motorcycle racing, perhaps the best rider ever. This is arguably the toughest track on the circuit, certainly the most unusual, longest and most physically taxing. And who could stay with him on those old last season crappy BFGoodrich garbage tires? Not nobody.

    Poor Lorenzo, the guy is losing it. Obviously his ego is crumbling. His plan two years was to be on top of the Moto GP world at this point, with only Pedrosa to contend with. Now he’s watching his brand fall into ignominy, as his top-tier sponsors start quietly turning away from him, and his yearly income begins to diminish by predictable increments. It’s all coming apart for Jorge, he may even retire from the sport entirely after this humiliation, let’s hope he doesn’t turn to drink. Too bad because I always liked the guy, but that’s what happens when you allow yourself to buy into the BS that the yes men feed ya.

    Regarding the start, it’s a stupid way to do it, the light should go from red to green, you know the international recognized symbol for GO! But of course that would make too much sense for the imbeciles running the Mickey Mouse operation that is Moto GP. They can’t keep the truth hidden any longer, the Emperor has no clothes.

    And oh yes, the Ducatis sucks, they suck balls! Cal Crutchlow is a great rider, if he were on a Honda, he’d certainly be a lot closer to Marquez then Pedrosa. Dani the donkey, another one who’s aspirations and PR hype machine far outstrips his actual abilities.

    The fact is none of these guys ever thought they’d be dealing with a truly gifted rider of his caliber, it’s a huge blow to all of their egos, as well as the egos of all those who supported and backed them financially, and bought into the PR BS that builds these guys up into Superman. Statistically speaking, the best rider in the world will never even stepped onto a motorcycle track in their lifetime, a lot of people need to get over themselves and their absurd presumptions. Marquez just got all these folks to check themselves, just as they wreck themselves, their careers, their financial portfolios… and their motorcycles.

    As for the rest of the also-rans, I can’t even remember their names anymore. Valentino who? :)