That was a chaotic weekend. Two-and-a-half days lost to rain, then a bizarre series of hold-ups and incidents on the start of the MotoGP grid that ended up eventually going a long way to deciding the championship. Fortunately for the series, the MotoGP race was preceded by two scintillating support races, and then the MotoGP race itself saw two very popular podiums.

To start with the biggest issue, the start and then the restart of the MotoGP race. There was a lot of confusion and head-scratching over what was going on – the riders had never seen the flashing amber lights on the starting panels, for one – but when the dust settled, it looked like everything had been run almost by the numbers, despite the protests from Dani Pedrosa’s camp.

The sequence of events seems to have been this: After the first warm up lap, the riders lined up on the grid ready to go, but after the starting lights had been shown, Karel Abraham had a clutch problem and put his hand up to indicate that his bike was not working. Once that had happened, Race Direction had no option but to call off the start. They ran this by the book: flashing yellow lights were displayed next to the red lights, and yellow flags were waved. There was as short of an interval as possible, before the bikes set off for the second warm-up lap, and race distance was reduced by a single lap.

The book that this is being run by is the FIM’s Grand Prix Road Racing regulations, but it is a book that very few riders consult much – hence their confusion over the flashing yellow lights: having a start delayed after the red lights have been lit is a vanishingly rare occurrence, delays are usually called well in advance, and riders put their hands up once they find their bike won’t start after the lights have gone out. But some familiarity with the rules would have helped greatly on Sunday.

What happened after that looked chaotic, but really wasn’t. The three minute procedure was announced, the IRTA staff whose job it is to apprise everyone on the grid of the situation rushing around ensuring the teams and riders knew what was going on. Then the one minute procedure started, and teams started to remove their tire warmers. That was what caused the problem for Dani Pedrosa, his front wheel locking up and his tire warmer getting jammed under the front wheel.

Pedrosa’s bike was wheeled off the grid, where the problem sorted itself out – Pedrosa said that the wheel unlocked itself once the bike was taken down off the paddock stands. Pedrosa’s team were then informed by Race Direction that Pedrosa was to start the warm up lap from pit lane, and he was to start the race from the back of the grid.

But Pedrosa’s team were confused, and pushed the Spaniard back out onto the grid. Race Direction faced a choice: send someone out to argue with Pedrosa and the team, probably causing even more delay, or let Pedrosa start the warm up lap from the grid, before ensuring that he started from the back of the grid.

They chose the latter course of action; the infraction was slight, the important thing being where Pedrosa started the race from, not where he started the warm-up lap from. As he returned to the grid, Pedrosa was sent to the rear of the grid, and started the race from the correct position.

Afterwards, Pedrosa launched a scathing attack on Race Direction, claiming that nobody knew what was going on or what procedure was being followed. Yet the evidence does not seem to be on Pedrosa’s side. Pedrosa said that nobody knew whether they were in the three minute procedure or the one minute procedure, and that they didn’t know how many laps were to be raced. Yet Cal Crutchlow was adamant that he and his team had been told by the many IRTA staff who patrol the grid exactly what was going on with the three minute and then one minute procedures, and that the number of laps to be raced was being displayed on the board over the start.

The confusion seems to have been in Pedrosa’s team. Pedrosa said that different TVs were giving a different number of laps to be raced. But it is not the TVs, official or otherwise, which displays the number of laps, it is the board at the starting line. Pedrosa also discovered as he was halfway round the warm-up lap that his pit lane speed limiter had been engaged by a mechanic.

He referred to this as a ‘mistake’, but it seems to indicate that the mechanics actually knew their job, engaging the pit lane limiter because they knew Pedrosa was supposed to start the warm up lap from pit lane. Pushing Pedrosa back onto the grid was the real mistake, or perhaps it was allowing the front wheel to lock-up somehow in the first place.

After the start, Pedrosa’s luck took a turn for the worse, if that is even possible, as Hector Barbera missed his braking point and wiped-out Pedrosa’s rear wheel. Even the chance of salvaging a few points was denied the Spaniard, and Pedrosa heads to Aragon 38 points behind Jorge Lorenzo. That Lorenzo should win in the same race that he was taken out was typical, Pedrosa said. “This has happened to me all my career.”

Lorenzo’s victory was flawless, or nearly so, as the factory Yamaha man was forced to save a huge moment with his elbow on Lap 4. Lorenzo lost nearly a second, but was soon back up to pace. This was rather to the annoyance of his crew, who had been trying to indicate to Lorenzo that he should take it easy, as Pedrosa was out. Lorenzo did not see, and the team could barely dare to look as he lapped in the low 1’34s for the first few laps.

The remaining podium spots were taken by two big favorites with the crowd. Alvaro Bautista getting third was more popular because he was riding a Gresini Honda, the bike he had inherited from Marco Simoncelli after the popular Italian’s death. Seeing the white San Carlo livery on the podium at what would have been Simoncelli’s home GP lifted the hearts of many.

But the second place man was the most popular of all. For once, Valentino Rossi had a very strong race on the Ducati. The revised swingarm and chassis allowed them to move the front end around more, giving more freedom in set up.

But the question is whether the improvement is all down to the new bike, or rather down to the two days of testing Rossi had at Misano on this bike two weeks ago, aided by the fact that everyone else lost nearly all their set up time because of the rain that plagued all three free practice sessions, forcing them to enter the race with little track time at the Misano Circuit. No doubt the bike is better, but his rivals lack of set up time also had to be a factor.

The really good news for Ducati came with tire wear however. So far during his career at Ducati, Rossi has suffered with a major tire drop off from about one-third distance. At Misano this weekend, Rossi could post consistent race times all the way to the end. When the tire started to slide, Rossi could still find grip, something that he has not had previously. The Italian will face a real test at Aragon, when they arrive at a track where both Honda and Yamaha have already spent two days testing earlier in the month.

Misano also had two outstanding support races. But that will have to wait for another day…

Photo: © 2012 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.

  • Damo

    Not sure if Nicky ran the new setup as well, but if he did it is obviously working. To stay on the bike and post a decent result like that, while still nursing a severe injury is impressive.

  • Westward

    Moto2 and Moto3 were insanely entertaining. In Moto3 Vinales looked to take the lead after climbing up from 11th, then made a bad maneuver and ended up 5th, but the entire race had several different leaders. In Moto2, Iannone looked like he was going to run away with a victory to the delight of all, save for Espargaro and Marquez who eventually caught him and took the lead. Halfway through the last lap Marquez stole the lead from Espargaro in grand fashion, to barely eek out the win – in true bin it or win it style…

    As for MotoGP itself, I alluded to this sort of outcome on Saturday, as I knew based on the qualifying times that Rossi had his best chance of making his first dry weather rostrum, and what better place than Misano…

    But as this article points out, we wont know if the bike actually improved over the competition or the lack of track time by the others was the main factor in Ducati’s success. I guess we will all find out more at Aragon…

    Andiamo Rossi

    Forza Ducati

  • Calisdad

    Rossi has said the new frame and swingarm have more goemetric combinations to aid setup. So although testing surely helped, it sounds as tho he’s finally got the changes he wanted and the bike itself is now competitive. Now we will have to wonder if he would have stayed at Ducati if they had arrived a month ago.

    Dani came unravelled and tried to win on the first lap. The scoring is now representative of how good JLo really is as he was also taken out a few races back.

  • Jimmy Midnight

    Pedrosa should consider him self fortunate that those crystal collarbones didn’t shatter like they always do when he falls down.

  • JD

    As for Honda…GOD GIVETH AND GOD TAKETH AWAY it didnt even take much time at all

  • Rider

    It was looking like Pedrosa would finally get one. I can see by many of the comments here why Stoner is leaving, riding skill is no longer appreciated. Everyone wants to see crashes and Italian theater.

  • How about Rea’s top ten?!?

  • I saw the Moto2 race and it was an intense battle at the finish. It wasn’t clean, nor was it particularly fair. Personally if someone tried to block me the way Márquez did Espargaró on that last lap, I put him in the hay bales. True Espargaró got nervous and lost the lead, but Márquez style is aggressive, and competitors need to respond accordingly. You let those kind of riders know you’ll go down and take them down with you before you give ground, and then see if they’re willing to ram you from behind, and take the consequences, physical and official, that go with that style of hyper aggressive riding.

  • @Kyle: “How about Rea’s top ten?!?”

    Indeed! I wasn’t familiar with him due to not following other series, but I certainly paid close attention to his riding and interviews over the course of the weekend. Man, the guy is well-spoken, humble and charming — exactly what Honda would like to have in light of his excellent performance. Two thumbs up to the Ulsterman. I’m looking forward to the next race.

  • Westward

    The universe has a way of balancing itself out. Bautista took Lorenzo out and now Barbera took Pedrosa out. I guess its and Spanish thing. As for Pedrosa plight, I don’t feel sorry for him, he tends to blame others for his misfortune anyways, so he should be use to it…

    Rea finished in front of the CRT’s as one would expect considering the bike he is riding. If De Puniet had Stoner’s bike he would have been on the podium…

    As for Stoner, he is a tourist, cause if he was a real racer like the rest of them, he would not be quitting. Politics is an issue everywhere, I’m sure most the posters here have to deal with it at work as well. The difference being, most of you don’t have a job that pays you millions as to afford you the luxury to quit..

    I have heard people try to say that Stoner has been racing since he was a kid, as though he is an exception. Biaggi, now that’s an exception, I think he started at age 18. Otherwise, most of these guys started racing pocket bikes…

  • Bryan

    Would be well pleased to he Rea permanently in Motogp. Top bloke and nice riding style.
    Pedrosa broken mirrors continues
    @ Westward
    You crack me…always entertaining mate, cheers

  • meatspin

    anything can happen. Lorenzo could fall off the next race and its back on like Donkey Kong.

    the torpedoing by Barbera kinda puts water to the fire. I was hoping Dani could have made it a more exciting run by the time PI rolls around.

    I wish my fellow US fans could stop giving Pedrosa such a hard time for taking Hayden out in ’06. The guy is racing with a lot of heart this year.

  • Well put meatspin.

  • @meatspin: “I wish my fellow US fans could stop giving Pedrosa such a hard time”

    I wish fans would stop giving any of the riders a hard time. Comments referring to riders who’ve been in the world championship for the last 11 years as “tourists” are woefully obtuse. I just don’t get the hating on any of the riders. These guys all risk their lives for the show. People would do well to not worry about the riders’ salaries and just appreciate the show and the risks for what they are: Epic.

    I’m a fan of the entire grid, regardless of the riders or the season.

  • Westward

    Just because someone risks their life for your entertainment does not automatically give them a pass or get out of jail free card. Also, just because someone is on the grid, does not mean they belong there either. It’s like reality television, Just because they are on a show doesn’t make them a better person, smarter, or talented…

    To barrow a line from a Ron Howard film; “People use to be on television because they were exceptional, today, people are exceptional because they are on television..”

    Pedrosa came into MGP thinking he was entitled to the championship. Somewhat understandable, he had three world titles in the lower classes. His arrogance showed in his attitude towards his teammate Hayden his rookie season. The prospect of not ever winning a premiere class title, is the only thing that has humbled him in my opinion over the last seven seasons. If he had won one earlier, he would have been an even more arrogant sod.

    Just as I was coming around to actually feel for Pedrosa, he displays a complete lack of sportsmanship that cemented my distain for him. Upon his return from injury (mind you an accident I feel is mostly his fault), Simoncelli in a total sympathetic gesture, offers his hand to Pedrosa as an expression of no hard feelings for the Le Mans incident. Instead of taking his hand, Pedrosa recoils like an immature school girl and avoids Marcos extended hand by dodging, weaving, and spinning away.

    If anyone gives Pedrosa a hard time, then in my opinion it is well deserved. Like the hard time he gave to Simoncelli in an olive branch moment. I do not wish Pedrosa ill. I just don’t care to see a man like that win the world title…

  • Westward

    As for Stoner, I have a similar gripe with him as well. All the talent and skill in the world does not make one a good person. Like Pedrosa, his arrogance and lack of respect for his peers is not winning him any fans either.

    Yes I am referring to the Jerez incident of last year. Rossi, a man that is not known for crashing, does so on a bike Stoner is very familiar with as having a penchant for losing the front, throws a juvenile quip in the face of a man that is apologizing to him. Not to mention even mocked him by remaining trackside clapping at Rossi as he rode by…

    In fact, he went further on to criticize the manner of the apology. He cried to every media outlet that would listen, saying, Rossi didn’t take his helmet off, or he should have scheduled a private meeting to apologize to me, and even questioned the motivation as to why Rossi apologized. As if the most media scrutinized personality in MGP could maneuver through the paddock without being followed.

    Just because you are the favourite to win, does not mean people need to bow and kiss your ring finger…

    Stoner even displayed even more poor sportsmanship when Rossi came to apologize to him by slapping Rossi on his still healing shoulder…

    On that same day in Moto2, mind you, it was a wet race for all three classes, Cluzel rammed Marquez in an incident that resulted in Marquez being carried off on a stretcher. Later on during the race, Cluzel went to Marquez’s garage to apologize. Marquez a world champion himself and a teenager, had the poise and respect for his fellow competitor enough to receive Cluzel’s gesture with class, and yes the media was there to capture it…

    Stoner could learn a thing or two from Marquez, a young man eight years his junior…

    As a Ducatisti myself, I was over the moon when Stoner, my pilot won us the world title in 2007. I have since noticed his demeanor evolving over the following seasons and it has grown worse, 2011 at Jerez was enough for me to simply not care any more.

    I will not miss him, I have the memories of 2007 and the great racing battles since then. He should go home, all tourist eventually have to…

  • Bryan

    I thought this was Asphalt & Rubber, not Asphalt & SoapBox Westward.

  • Well said, Westward.